By Pimlapas Leekitcharoenphon
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said, “Every country understands and has no concerns about Thailand’s situation. Furthermore, they have not warned their citizens to not travel to Thailand.”
Firstly, why would they need to warn their citizens? The protests have been peaceful. Secondly, we’re still in the global COVID-19 pandemic with travel restrictions worldwide. Very few people are traveling anywhere, to begin with.
But if the foreign minister wants to know what other countries think, I can fill him in.
I’ve been living in Denmark for ten years, currently working as a researcher and lecturer at a university in Copenhagen.
Before the pandemic, this country of five million people had direct daily flights to Thailand. Danes love to visit our country. They love the beach, the food, and the friendly people. However, in general, knowledge about Thai politics is minimal. The news in Denmark rarely ever covers anything about Thailand, until now.
With the protest by Khana Ratsadon on 20 September at Thammasat University and Sanam Luang, Denmark’s oldest and largest media channel, DR, featured a half-hour special program analyzing Thailand’s political situation.
They weren’t just reading from the teleprompt. DR had a news team on the ground in Bangkok, reporting on what’s happening in Thailand.
They interviewed Parit “Penguin” Chirawak and featured his photo next to King Rama 10. They dug deep into the analysis of Thailand’s situation and spoke on issues that the news media in Thailand cannot speak on because of Article 112, the lese majeste law.
They examined the monarchy’s wealth, the ties with the military, and the history of military coups in our country.
They reported on the draconian Article 112 and the forced disappearance of Wanchalerm Satsaksit. They even interviewed the ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee Movement.
They analyzed the brainwashing angle and posed a rhetorical question: Which group has been brainwashed, the pro-democracy protests, or the royalists?
Aside from this special report, Thailand’s situation is regularly featured in Denmark’s news media. Not just DR, but other news outlets.
Furthermore, in-depth coverage of Thailand’s situation is not just in Denmark. Other media channels in Europe, including Germany, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, and many other countries also cover our political conflict and social divide.
The government crackdown on 16 October? Yes, Denmark and Europe saw it in full.
Growing with the news coverages are the Free Thai Movements organized by Thais living abroad, whether they are students or immigrants. In each country, the Free Thai Movement organizes activities and protests supporting democracy, just as our fellow Thais do in Thailand.
The most significant difference is, we don’t get hosed down by water cannons laced with chemicals.
Denmark has a royal family, but it’s not anything like the Thai royal family. It has a libel law to protect the monarchy, but not anything like Thailand’s Article 112. Denmark also has accountability, transparency, checks and balances, and the royal family is under the constitution, something else that is unlike Thailand.
I write this not to discredit Thailand. I and thousands of others may live abroad, but we are still Thais, and we want to see our country embrace democracy and fundamental human rights. The Free Thai Movement is growing worldwide as Thais living abroad unite in support of Khana Ratsadon.
When Foreign Minister Don said, “Every country understands…,” he is absolutely correct.
The world is watching and coming to understand the truth about what’s happening in Thailand.