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Protests 1

If you haven’t noticed in the news lately, there has been some pretty serious protesting in Thailand the last few days. So for this week’s update, here is a quick summary and things you can be praying about.

What’s happening?

Protestors are trying to force out the current Prime Minster and her administration.
They are storming government buildings around the city to try to force out workers and take control.
There are non-stop rallies and speeches attended by tens of thousands in main city centers.
It has been going on for several weeks now, and could continue for any amount of time (days, weeks, months).
The demonstrations were peaceful up until Saturday when there were 4 deaths and many injuries.
Sunday was declared “People’s Victory Day!” by the protest leader (Suthep) but the protestors failed to seize complete control. So, they continue.
Currently, the fighting is at a main government buiding (where we go get our Visa’s renewed) and the Police Headquarters.
The police and military have set up barriers and are fending them off with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons.
Bangkok is under special law that gives police more power to break up riots.
Protest TV – you can watch protest craziness live as it unfolds. (Will likely be nighttime here when you watch though.)
Strangest thing to happen so far is the temporary truce they called in honor of the King’s birthday.
They were throwing rocks and tear gas at each other in the afternoon, and a few minutes later they started helping each other pick trash up off the street and decorate.
Fighting should resume Friday morning.
Why?

The political party that is not currently in power was riled up a few weeks ago by a proposed amnesty bill that would have allowed the former Prime Minister (Thaksin) that was exiled in 2008 to return and not face the charges against him.
Thaksin’s sister is now the Prime Minster.
The protestors initially came together in the city to protest that bill.
Once the bill was defeated, the protestors took the opportunity and momentum they had gathered to push for a complete cleansing of the “Thaksin regime” from the government – starting with the current PM, Yingluck (Thaksin’s sister).
Accusations are of ineptitude, corruption, and being puppets of the exiled former PM.
Thailand has had more coups in recent history than any other country. 11 successful ones in just over 80 years in fact. So, this method is not new.
The anti-government protestors are the minority in the country, so they aren’t going to be satisfied with new (forced) elections.
I thought Thailand had a King?

They do, but he is a much revered father-figure that largely stays out of politics.
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy.
Thailand has 2 main political parties: One made up of mostly middle and upper classes that live in Bangkok, and poorer blue collar workers that live in the rest of the country.
The party currently in power is the one’s made up of those outside of Bangkok, and the vast majority of protestors are from here in Bangkok.
What it’s like living in the middle of it?

Outside of the hot spots, life goes on just like normal. People trying to make a living.
News reports only show the most dramatic of the hot spots — tear gas, barricades, fires, injuries, etc.
Protest areas are constantly moving as they pick new places to target. So, it is smart to keep up with the news and avoid the protest areas
I’ve been detoured about 5x or so trying to get where we were going and been caught in a couple, but have had no troubles at all.
We went to church fine Sunday, but were detoured by 2 protests on the way home. We made it, but nervous we were going to be stuck in the car all day because of the traffic jams that are caused by thousands blocking off a street.
I think my neighbor must be stressed about all the craziness in Bangkok, because there’s a funky smell that wafts over the wall.
My opinion about it

I don’t really have one. I am just an observer.
Our message is not about politics, nor do I have any power to change anything. I am a guest here and way behind on understanding all of the history and subtlties of culture that have created the current political climate.
It’s educational and brings many topics to the forefront that we are able to learn about.
I have not seen any reason to believe that this will hinder ministry here in the country.
What’s next?

I am extremely under-qualified to predict Thai politics, but everything is planned to start again in the morning after this brief truce called in honor of the king.
We will wait and see…

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