A group of prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy figures on Monday held a rally in solidarity with Thailand’s pro-democracy protests outside of the Thai Consulate in Central.
Those present included democrats Ted Hui and Kalvin Ho, as well as activists Joshua Wong and Figo Chan. The group held a banner reading: “Condemn violence against protesters. Stand with Thailand.”
Fresh protests against the Thai monarchy and government erupted in Bangkok four days ago. The Thai capital has seen pro-democracy street demonstrations since July, with thousands on its streets calling for political reform. The protests ran into their fourth consecutive day on Sunday despite Thai authorities banning gatherings of more than five people.
Speaking to reporters, Hui expressed support for Thai protesters who have been arrested over the last four days: “We are here to support them and ask the Thai government for their immediate release. It breaks our hearts to see that many young people are injured, that many young people are facing arbitrary arrest.”
Hui also called on support from the international community: “We are here to ask the international community to support the freedom movement, the democratic movement that is happening now in Bangkok and in other places in Thailand.”
Referring to similar struggles in Belarus, Hui said the group wanted to “send a signal” to the international community about the collective fight against authoritarian regimes across the world: “We are fighting against tyrannical governments… people from different parts of the world we are one. Against tyranny. Against totalitarianism.”
Separately, Wong called on Hongkongers to continue supporting Thailand’s movement for democratic and monarchic reform: “Thailand, Belarus. Their protesters are the same as us. They want freedom and democracy… Thailand is not just a place where Hongkongers go on holidays.”
Pro-democracy figures took turns in fours to speak to the press, in keeping with a government-imposed gathering limit related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Standing outside the Consulate building, the activists chanted “Stand with Thailand” and “Democracy Now.” The group also raised three-fingers, used by Thai protesters to signal their three demands: the dissolution of the government, an end to police violence, and for the drafting of a new constitution.
Police were also at the scene. Officers repeatedly cautioned the crowd against violating the four-person gathering limit.
The group then attempted to enter the building to present their demands to the Thai Consul, however, officers and the building’s security personnel blocked them.
Police later set up a cordon around the entrance.
Unable to gain entry, the activists taped banners reading “Stand with Thailand,” “Release detainees,” “Hongkongers support Thais” and “Condemn violent crackdown” in Thai, Chinese and English on the front entrance of Fairmont House.
Speaking to reporters after their failed entry, Hui urged “freedom-loving” people from around the world to petition their Thai Consul for the release of protesters and to accede to demands for reform: “Thailand, Hong Kong, Belarus. We inspire each other.”
Chan told HKFP that he wanted to show mutual solidarity with Thais: “The situation in Thailand now is very similar to the situation during Hong Kong’s movement last year,” he said.
“They want democracy and freedom, like everyone else. These are things that everyone should have, regardless of nationality.”
“We are here to show our support, and we hope that the Thai government will value its people. A state exists because of its people. If the government doesn’t respect its people and their demands for freedom, how can the people, in turn, respect its monarch?” he asked.
There was an outpouring of support for Thailand’s protest movement from Hong Kong netizens over the weekend, with many referring to a “Milk Tea Alliance” – an informal, online coalition of pro-democracy supporters from Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan.
On Sunday, graffiti reading “#Stand with Thailand” appeared on an overpass in Hong Kong.
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.