In Thailand, a New Type of Protest
Since late October, 2013, protesters across Thailand have taken to the streets, occupied rally sites, seized government buildings and made their grievances known to the world. They stand in opposition of the regime of Thaksin Shinawatra – a Wall Street-backed billionaire autocrat, convicted criminal, accused mass murderer, and fugitive who is openly running the country from abroad via his nepotist appointed proxy, his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
Not entirely unlike other protests seen unfolding around the world, large mobilizations have periodically flooded the streets of Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, at times attracting over a million protesters….
However, unlike many protests, particularly those promoted heavily by the Western media, hollow slogans such as “democracy” and “freedom” in Thailand are overshadowed by more specific, better articulated, and enumerated demands….
Enter Buddhist monk and activist Luang Pu Buddha Issara, who has led the permanent occupation of northern Bangkok’s Government Complex for months. Between leading protesters and coordinating with the larger anti-regime movement, Buddha Issara has also done something novel, innovative, and rare – added pragmatism to the sea of placards found among his followers.
Money raised by the various fundraising activities has gone into the purchase of a modest rice mill. The mill processes about 1 ton of rice per day, brought in by desperate farmers unable to receive compensation from the regime. The milled rice is then sealed in bags and sold to Bangkok’s city goers. The proceeds are given back to the farmers. Buddha Issara has also asked farmers to bring other forms of produce – fruits and vegetables – to the protest site to likewise be sold. It is the first step toward a farm-to-city market, short-circuiting the corrupt middlemen and rancid warehouses that constitute the failed rice scheme the regime has created.
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