Thailand’s celebs break silence on protests, demand changes

A K-pop superstar, beauty queens and TV personalities are among a growing wave of celebrities backing Thailand’s pro-democracy movement, sending out messages of support to millions of followers on social media.

Protesters are targeting the government and calling for reforms to the monarchy. AFP
Political statements are unusual from Thai celebs, whose lucrative endorsements rely on the billionaire clans that are a pillar of the country’s establishment. But some prominent figures broke cover after police fired water cannon at peaceful protesters in Bangkok on Friday.

Thai-American K-Pop idol Nichkhun, better known as the “Thai Prince”, told his 6.9 million Twitter followers he cannot “stand idly by” after Friday’s scenes, an escalation after months of student-led protests.

“The use of violence is something I cannot watch and stand idly by,” said Nichkhun, a member of ultra-popular South Korean boy band 2PM, in a message that was retweeted by tens of thousands within hours.

“Violence has never helped anything. I hope everyone stays safe... and take care of yourselves.”

Friday’s showdown was the first such use of force against the protesters, who are calling for the resignation of Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a former military chief brought to power in a 2014 coup, and demanding reforms to the powerful monarchy. 

It followed a tense week in the Thai capital when protesters defied a ban on demonstrations, and the arrests of scores of leading activists, to return to the streets in their tens of thousands.

Topics: Thailand , Protest , Nichkhun , Violence , Prayut Chan-O-Cha
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