Thai protesters are learning a whole new sign language, developed within days to coordinate anti-government demonstrations that have swollen in defiance of Thailand’s government’s emergency degree. Hands point above head = need umbrella, Hands held over head = need helmet; Hands crossed over chest = enough supplies here.
“Everyone has been helping each other out,” 19-year-old Riam told Reuters. She like most anti-government protesters would only give 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.”
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.
Crackdown on Anti-government protesters
They gained added 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 cannon on peaceful protesters.
That has also meant a need to be able to quickly move protective equipment and other supplies from point to point so that everyone can be prepared.
Police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen noted that the protest situation was “very dynamic.” He also said that people should understand their protesting was illegal.
Since Friday, police have not tried to break up protests, but protesters are taking no chances.
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 them in a form of Chinese whispers that are anything but whispered.
“Everyone is well educated and learns how to survive without the leaders,” said 20-year-old Tangmae as she demonstrated some of the signs. “We should communicate so the protest can happen in an orderly way.”
Thailand’s Prime Minister Doubles Down on Media Censorship
Thailand’s Prime Minister has has doubled down on news media censorship telling authorities to take no chances over scrutiny of broadcast and online content. News media content that could be deemed to violate his emergency decree. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s move came on the day the Criminal Court ordered that Voice TV’s online content to be blocked.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of his cabinet, Gen Prayut he ordered authorities to respect the freedom of the press. But on the other hand take legal action against news media outlets that spread false information and fake news that violated other people’s rights. He didn’t elaborate on the news media outlets or the alleged violations.
“We are duty-bound to protect the country and eliminate ill-intentioned actions. Intentions aimed at creating chaos and conflict in the country,” Gen Prayut declared.
He did pay tribute to pro-government media outlets who had played a crucial role in creating constructive change in society. Saying those who conducted their work impartially had made a substantial contribution to the country.