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Thailand’s Protests Shift Tactics, Influenced by Hong Kong

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Thousands of antigovernment protesters gathered at Bangkok’s Victory Monument on Sunday wearing raincoats, helmets and goggles, braced for a confrontation with authorities who two days earlier had used water cannons to disperse a rally.

Demonstrators formed clear front lines around barricades. Volunteers directed attendees to sit in tight rows, distributing protective gear to those on the outer edges.

Thailand’s protest movement—which sustained a steady pace for months—has taken on a different tone in recent days as it steps up calls for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s resignation. Earlier protests typically began with smaller marches to central meeting points where young activists gave rousing speeches on a diversity of issues. They have morphed into larger, hourslong occupations of prominent public spaces with participants prepared for police action.

Sunday marked the fourth consecutive day protesters defied a government ban on large gatherings, and the second day they circumvented mass-transit shutdowns, arriving at protest sites on foot and by motorcycle taxis. Though protesters were prepared for a possible encounter with police, authorities took no action against them and they dispersed around 8 p.m. One of the main groups mobilizing the demonstrations, Free Youth, called for sustained protests until demands are met, declaring on Twitter that “We won’t stop!”

Thailand’s protests have echoed some of the tactics seen during Hong Kong’s movement against Beijing’s influence over the city that evolved without an identified leader and used fluid and diffuse strategies to confound authorities.

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