As the Myanmar military seizes power, detains politicians and declares a 1-year state of emergency, the democratic opposition in Thailand condemns the putsch and holds a protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok while the Thai government reserves comment.
Condemnation by Thai activists and Myanmar protesters in Thailand
Free Youth released a statement to condemn the military putsch in Myanmar on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.
“In the fertile region, the people are still starving and voiceless to decide their better future,” said the Free Youth. “Free Youth Movement demands [the] coup d’état that will bring Myanmar turning back to dictatorial regime must be immediately ended. Long live democracy in Southeast Asia!”
Ratsadon’s fanpage released a statement calling the occurence a “filthy cycle of coups”.
“Ratsadon stands alongside our brothers and sisters in Myanmar on the path to democracy, and demands that the Thai government coordinate and ensure the safety of Thais in Myanmar immediately.”
On 30 January, when it remained unclear whether there would be a coup, Matichon online reported that the Thai Embassy in Myanmar was informing Thais in Myanmar about political developments and asked them to follow the news with “understanding.” The original post has been deleted.
Individual activists also condemned the military coup in Myanmar including Inthira Charoenpura, Panupong Jadnok and Tanawat Wongchai.
In the late afternoon, Thai and Myanmar citizens led by We Volunteer gathered at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok on Sathon Nuea Road near the Surasak BTS station and read condemnation statements in Thai, English, and Burmese.
In its statement, We Volunteer said that “we reaffirm that as a member of ASEAN, we cannot stay silent to such [an] evil and unlawful act. Thailand must not endorse and legitimize this coup – as well as [the] coup government. We Volunteer are hereby calling upon coup leader[s] in Myanmar to stop such illicit act.”
Caption: We Volunteer's statement in condemnation of the Myanmar coup. Source: We Volunteer
According to Matichon, Parit Chiwarak, gave a speech in Thai opposing the military coup and received applause from Thai and Myanmar protesters in Bangkok. Public figures including Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Pannika Wanich, Amarat Chokepamitkul, Kath Krungpiboon, also joined the protest.
Not long after, riot control police arrived at the protest site calling for the protesters to disperse and forcing the protesters to retreat from the area. Some protesters were struck by police batons and responded by throwing paint, smoke bombs, glasses, and traffic cones. Three protesters were arrested, one of whom is from We Volunteer according to iLaw.
Another protest was held in Pathumwan district where students in uniform held anti-coup signs and circulated explanatory leaflets to raise awareness about the military coup in Myanmar.
Caption: Thai students holding protest signs against the Myanmar coup.
In Samut Sakhon Province, according to a Thai PBS reporter, a group of Myanmar migrant workers also gathered to protest the military coup in Myanmar at Talad Klang Kung which became a Covid-19 hotspot in December last year, displaying pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi who is currently detained by the Myanmar military.
Condemnation from Thai politicians
Thai opposition politicians also responded to the coup. Chaturon Chaisang, a veteran politician who opposed the Thai coup in 2014, tweeted:
“The coup in Myanmar represents enormous damage to the democratic world, the ASEAN region, and the people throughout Myanmar. I hope that the global community will help to prevent Myanmar from going back in time and deep into dictatorship. I would like to encourage the people of Myanmar to bring the country back to democracy.”
Amarat Chokepamitkul, an MP from the Move Forward Party, tweeted that “the Thai leadership should express, together with the ASEAN countries, their rejection of the coup in Myanmar.” Later in the afternoon, Amarat also joined the protest in front of Myanmar Embassy to oppose the military coup.
Soon after Amarat’s tweet, the Move Forward party released a statement in Thai and English saying that the Myanmar coup is “extremely disappointing.” The Move Forward party also demanded the unconditional release of politicians including Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint, rejection of the use of force against the citizens of Myanmar who protest against the coup, and political and economic sanctions against the junta by governments and political parties.
The Pheu Thai party, the leader of the opposition coalition, also released a statement in condemnation of the putschists.
“The Pheu Thai party and politicians in the democratic camp, who have been victims of military coups, condemn the use of force to seize power by the Myanmar military government, without respect for the rights and freedoms in accordance with democracy and without respect for the honest consensus of the people. The Pheu Thai party calls for the immediate release of politicians and political activists who were detained.”
Min Aung Hlaing’s profile resurfaces
Caption: Gen Min Aung Hlaing on a visit to Thailand in 2019.
As the Myanmar military seized power, accusing its political opponents of election fraud, the hashtag #coup and #SaveMyanmar topped the Twitter trend in Thailand. Reports about the military coup in Myanmar have appeared in almost every headline on Thai media outlets.
The previous connections with Thai elite of Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the general who led the army to stage a coup today, have been revealed.
In May 2019, Gen Min Aung Hlaing came to Thailand to pay respect at the funeral of Gen Prem Tinsulanonda at Wat Benchamabophit 5 days after Gen Prem passed away. He was widely known as an adopted son of Gen Prem who ruled Thailand for 8 years in the period of semi-democracy in 1980s.
According to the Bangkok Post, Min Aung Hlaing said that “Gen Prem was a man of calibre and knowledge with vast experience in various fields including military and politics. He shared his experiences and gave me advice every time I paid him a visit.”
Gen Min Aung Hlaing also has a connection with the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Momentum reported a voice clip of a conversation between Thaksin and Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapha, who was the Minister of Defence in the government of his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.
According to the clip, Thaksin said that Gen Min Aung Hlaing was one of his allies. He once went to Myanmar to join the Songkran festival with Gen Min Aung Hlaing who gave him a piece of land in Yangon.
However, two months after Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted by the military coup in 2014, Gen Min Aung Hlaing paid a visit to encourage Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. He said that he “has confidence that what the Thai army is doing at this time is the most appropriate, because the army has a very important mission, which is to defend the nation and take care of the safety of the people, and the Myanmar military has already gone through this process and has experience of similar events."