On 22 May 2014, the Thai army staged a coup d’état, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Five years later, less than three months after elections marred by fraud and irregularities, Thailand is still ruled by an authoritarian military junta. In the past few days, pro-democracy individuals from Berlin, Los Angeles and Sydney gathered to condemn the coup, and protest against the junta in Bangkok.
To understand how the ruling junta rose to power, it is essential to go back to the events of May 2014. Months before the coup, the anti-government forces, mostly consisting of the Bangkok middle-class, royalists and conservative factions, occupied the streets of Bangkok to create a situation of ungovernability. They called their movement the People’s Democratic Reform Council (PDRC). Their enterprise of destabilisation came to fruition when the military topped PM Yingluck Shinawatra and seized political power.
The military justified its political intervention as a mission to eliminate a corrupt government. Among other charges, the ousted Prime Minister was accused of corruption in the rice-pledging scheme designed to help Thai farmers coping with falling price of rice. A few years later, Yingluck Shinawatra decided to flee Thailand arguing that the cases against her were politically motivated.
Meanwhile, the military began to systematically dismantle Thailand’s democratic system to secure its grip on power. The military sponsored the rewriting of a constitution, designed to prevent powerful political parties, like Pheu Thai, the party of Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother, who was also ousted in a coup in 2006. The constitution also empowers the Senate, turning it into a political instrument for the establishment in dominating the parliament. Five years have passed, what has left for Thailand is a diminishing hope for the return of democracy.
On this occasion, FORSEA has worked in unison with pro-democracy activists around the world to demonstrate our rejection of the military rule. We vow to fight to prevent future coups, and to finally bring democracy back in Thailand.