Saturday, September 19, 2020

Huge Failure for US-backed Thai Anti-Government Protests

Fewer showed up on the first day than expected, and regardless of how many show up on the second day, the fact that Thaksin Shinawatra and his "red shirt" mobs are clearly behind what was dishonestly promoted as "student protests" will irreversibly impact the movement's perceived legitimacy.

September 19, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - Anti-government "student" protests aimed at ousting Thailand's current government, military, and even constitutional monarchy had promised to bring hundreds of thousands of young protesters into the streets today in what they claimed would be a pivotal moment for their movement. 

Instead, just as in previous "student" rallies, few young people actually showed up and the majority of the 20,000 or so protesters who did fill a third of Bangkok's Sanam Luang park were bused in by billionaire fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra's "red shirt" network from the nation's rural northeast region of Isaan. 

The area occupied by the protesters consists of about 25,000 to 30,000 square meters. With protesters sitting and spaced to make room for those walking in and out of the protest site and for their umbrellas, it means at best there would be 1 protester per square meter. Aerial photos shot at the peak of the protests Saturday night show that in many areas there was even less density. Subtracting space for the stage and the area occupied by the protests was even smaller still. 

While protest organizers made the absurd claim that "200,000" showed up - a number that would not fit in the area even if it the park was fully occupied - the number was much closer to a tenth of that at around 20,000 - the same number police calculated. 

Thaksin's Red Shirts Further Taint an Already Illegitimate Protest 

Officially the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) - Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts have been responsible for the most violent chapters of 21st century Thai politics. In 2009-2010 they carried out riots culminating in arson and looting. The latter riot also included some 300 heavily armed militants triggering gun battles throughout Bangkok leaving nearly 100 dead. 

READ MORE: US-backed Billionaire's Violent Supporters Show Up at "Student" Protest

In 2014 when protesters took to the streets in opposition to Thaksin Shinawatra's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra - who served as prime minister in his place - the red shirts would again come out creating violence that left over 20 dead including women and children. 

Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts are understandably very unpopular in Thailand and precisely why Thaksin and his political allies including billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit embarked on a campaign to rebrand them as "student protests" stretching back several years. Since the 2014 coup which eventually ousted Yingluck from power, these "student protesters" would take to the streets but with their numbers always visibly bolstered by Thaksin's red shirts. 

Image: After announcing in late 2019 that he would bring protesters into the streets, he and his sponsor Thaksin Shinawatra have made good on their promise today with what was essentially a red shirt rally he himself attended. 

From then until now this "rebranding" never really took root. Many of the actual "student" leaders are in fact red shirts themselves, albeit younger than the average middle-aged red shirt protester. Today's rally, necessitating the use of these highly unpopular and controversial protesters proved once and for all that the "students" were merely another extension of Thaksin Shinawatra, his political machine, and his ongoing bid to seize back power. It also proves that the popularity of the "student" brand was over-hyped by sympathetic media outlets. 

More troubling still is that in addition to obvious backing by Thaksin Shinawatra and his political allies, the US government is also involved in funding and supporting virtually every aspect of the so-called "student protests." 

READ MORE: The Complete Guide: US Government Role in Thailand's "Student Protests"

This funding is as easy to confirm as visiting the US National Endowment for Democracy's (NED) official website and seeing each and every core element of the protests listed. This includes organizations supplying the protests their core leadership like the Union for Civil Liberty, an organization behind a petition to rewrite Thailand's constitution called iLaw, media platforms to promote the protests, and even one group listed as "Thai Poor Act" which has helped supply protesters to various rallies.  

Tying it all together at today's protest were scenes of Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts, overseen by senior politicians from his various political parties as well as nominees like Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, all participating in activities organized by US-funded fronts like iLaw petitioning to rewrite of Thailand's constitution.

The lack of legitimacy of protests backed by such interests - especially when "student leaders" have repeatedly denied ties to either the US government or Thaksin and Thanathorn - has been irreversibly unmasked in front of the entire public today. 

It has only been through concerted disinformation from across the Western media that these facts have remained hidden from the vast majority of the global public. Inside Thailand, large numbers of Thais are increasingly aware of this information. 

Regardless of how many protesters show up tomorrow or at future rallies, their legitimacy from today onward will be fully and forever tainted. The Thai government will now have a much easier time selling the necessity to detain leaders and root out sponsors.