Over 400 Thais and foreigners came together in an online protest on Sunday (7 June) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and called for justice for George Floyd. The protest was held on Zoom due to legal and Covid-19 concerns.
(Source: Khaosod English)
Two entrepreneurs, Prameet Sirisachdecha and Natalie Bin Narkprasert, formed a group called Supporters of Black Lives Matter in Bangkok. They organized a rally in effort to create a platform for the Bangkok community to come together and stand against racism, discrimination and police brutality in the United States.
The rally was held online on Sunday 7 June with over 400 participants including live audiences on Zoom and Facebook. Most participants joined from Thailand while some joined from other countries.
“We were delighted about the turnout and the fact that people said it was eye-opening and educational. We wanted to bring supporters together, pay respects to George Floyd and elevate the voices of the Black community, and we did that,” the organizers said.
Two main reasons led them to hosting the rally online were Covid-19 and legal concerns — the Emergency Decree bans large gatherings.
While people in other countries came out to protest despite curfews and Covid-19-related regulations, this group chose safety first.
They explained that the virtual event would allow them to have full control without any risk as they knew they would not be able to ensure social distancing if a larger group of people showed up and they did not want the event to become a new spreader event in the pandemic.
Another concern shared among the Black community and expats that stopped them from having a physical event was legality.
“They were afraid [of] getting their visas rejected, revoked and they didn't want to jeopardize it. The goal was to bring people together and we could do that without having a physical event. We didn't want anyone to get arrested,” the organizers said.
Prameet and Natalie said the reaction during the rally was “phenomenal.” People came together to learn, share their messages, cry and pay respect to Floyd. They said they have received many messages from the Black community in Bangkok afterward thanking them for organizing the event.
For Natalie, the most memorable moment was when she saw participants raised their fists in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which represents the period of time Floyd had an officer’s
knee on his throat before his death. Prameet said seeing people from all backgrounds and all skin colours come together for the same purpose made him cry.
After the event was announced on Facebook, over 1,000 people showed interest in being a part of it. They said they were “surprised, and not surprised.”
“Surprised that so many people found out about our event in just a few days. But not surprised that so many people connected with this event,” the organizers said. “When the pain is so deep, the whole world feels it. It gives us hope that while George Floyd’s death was a trigger, people around the world are saying enough to racial discrimination and injustice.”
Videos of the rally and their campaigns will be shared with the United State Embassy and Black rights groups and they hope to pass it to Floyd’s family as well.
Prameet and Natalie agree that the event was successful as they were able to provide a safe space for people who share the same beliefs. However, this event will not be a one-off event, they plan to continue advocating the issues in the long term. Also, they said they will consider organizing a physical rally once the Emergency Decree is lifted.