Thai Pro-Democracy Protests In Sign Language
The gestures remind of those used by the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Hands point above head means I need an umbrella, hands held overhead signifies I need a helmet, hands crossed on the chest indicates I have enough supplies here - Thai protesters are developing a new sign language. It is aiding them to coordinate pro-democracy demonstrations.
Everyone has been helping each other out, 19-year-old Riam stated. She, like most anti-government protesters, would only give introduce herself by one name. At first, we had to work out what people were saying, but with the sign language gestures, it’s pretty easy to guess.
Their new sign language only took shape over the weekend when anti-government protest groups started to teach and practice the moves together. Some messages are still passed down human chains by shouting, like Chinese whispers, that are anything but whispered.
Everyone is well educated and learns how to survive without the leaders, 20-year-old Tangmae stated as she demonstrated some of the signs. We should communicate so the protest can happen in an orderly way, she stressed.
Some of the words in the Thai hand signal language vocabulary are the same as those used by protesters in Hong Kong. Some they made up themselves and have now gained common usage. Three months of protests in Thailand have sought to bring down Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The popularity of the language reached momentum last week with a government crackdown that brought the arrest of several of the highest-profile protest leaders. It also saw riot police using water cannons on peaceful protesters.
The police crackdown required from protesters be able to quickly move protective equipment and other supplies from point to point, making sure every protester is safe.
Police spokesman Mr. Kissana Phathanacharoen noted that the protest situation was very dynamic. He also stated that people should understand their protesting was illegal.
Since Friday, police have not tried to break up protests, but protesters are taking no chances.
Government crackdown on a free press
Thailand’s Prime Minister has doubled down on news media censorship, instructing authorities to take no chances over scrutiny of broadcast and online content. On the same day, the Criminal Court ordered that Voice TV’s online content be blocked.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of his cabinet, Mr. Gen Prayut stated that he ordered authorities to respect the freedom of the press. But on the other hand, take legal action against news media outlets that spread what was, in his opinion, false information and fake news that violated other people’s rights. He didn’t elaborate on what was the fake news that violated rights.
“We are duty-bound to protect the country and eliminate ill-intentioned actions. Intentions aimed at creating chaos and conflict in the country,” Mr. Gen Prayut stated.
He praised the pro-government media outlets that, as he emphasised, had played a crucial role in creating, what he called, a constructive change in society.