[Sadly, the principal premise of this post is incorrect. The actual situation in Thailand regarding these protests is described by International Relations Scholar Stephen Zunes below. ]
Every day millions of protesters around the world facing police think to themselves, “Why can’t they see the injustice here? Why don’t these cops see that we are on the same side and we want fairness and a better world for all of us?” Typically, then the police order the protesters to disperse, or to get out of the street. In some cases police arrest them and push them around or worse.
Thai police yield to protesters – Circa Dec 6, 2013
Something extraordinary happened in Thailand the other day. The riot police were sent to break up the anti-government demonstrators. When they got to the protest, they decided, en masse, that the protesters were right and they took off their riot gear and let them through.
It is only recently that the idea has become popular that a political prisoner could become head of state.
Let’s hope the Thai riot police are a model for law enforcement forces around the world, so that when the people in the streets are speaking truth to those in power – the best thing to happen is for “power” to put down their weapons.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Correction by Stephen Zunes:
I’m afraid you have the post about the Thai police all wrong.
First of all, the protesters are mostly allied with right-wing urban elites, business interests, monarchists, and other anti-democratic forces trying to bring down a popular democratically-elected left-leaning populist female prime minister. When the PM offered new elections, which she undoubtedly would win, the opposition objected and demanded an appointed government more to their liking instead.
Secondly, it was the government which ordered the police to lay down their vests and the barricades to avoid bloodshed in the face of often violent provocations by the protesters and allow the demonstrators to take over largely unoccupied government buildings. Yes, the brother of the current prime minister, when he was in that office, was a corrupt demagogue. She’s a lot better, though. The main objections of the protesters is her insistence that the government’s spending priorities be with the rural poor at the expense of the country’s elites.
I’m a great proponent and author of a number of major studies of strategic nonviolent action. This is NOT a good example of people power, however.
Professor of Politics and Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies
University of San Francisco
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