Ukrainian anti-invasion protests continue in Bangkok
Protests against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued for a second day in the Thai capital on Sunday with several hundred protesters marching from Bangkok’s Lumpini Park to Benchakitti Park.
Ukrainian software engineer Oleklsandr Polieno has lived in Thailand for six years. He flew from the island of Phuket to attend the demonstration.
“That one thing we can do overseas to show our support. It just shows that everyone understands what is happening in Ukraine and that Ukrainians there have support,” he told VOA.
Sophie is a Ukrainian art teacher who did not want to give her last name. She says her family in Ukraine is suffering.
“Putin started this war. Our families are suffering. They are in basements, without water, without food, they cannot sleep. They are scared. A few hours ago, Russia started heavy fighting in our city. They are in the basements, praying,” she told VOA.
Alexandra Bieliaieva is from the city of Odessa in southern Ukraine. “I don’t want my daughter to go back to my country. I hope my mother and my sister can escape. I hope my mother can leave the country,” she told VOA.
On a hot afternoon in Bangkok, some protesters played music from portable speakers, including the Ukrainian national anthem and songs by local rock band Okean Elzy. The protest passed off peacefully, with many people carrying flags or clothing in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Natalia is a Russian web developer who did not want to give her last name. She wore Ukrainian colors to protest against the invasion of her country.
“I have been crying for the past two days. What can I do? It’s a nightmare to see him on the other side.
She says the Russian media is distorting the invasion.
“They say Putin is a hero. Save Russians everywhere, and we should fight for our people. It’s already like a victory. Totally brainwashed. I think we will go the way of North Korea,” she added.
Taras Golokoz, 17, has dual Ukrainian and Thai nationality. He told VOA he was worried about his grandparents living in Mykolaiv.
“They are sometimes very scared when they hear the Russian helicopters flying. I am worried because they could be shot at any moment. But they have a good stock of emergencies [supplies] inside their house, and they too [have] got a bomb shelter in case there were airstrikes.
Ukrainian artist Lydia Zhuravlova claims Russian forces killed her entire family seven years ago during their invasion of the Donbass region.
“I lost my family to the first invasion. Now the second invasion has begun. Today, I stand up and fight for my land, which is left to me from my family. We need financial support, weapons and humanitarian support for our citizens because Ukraine is literally fighting alone,” she told VOA.
Roman Vasylyovch helped organize the protests. He says there will be another protest outside the Russian Embassy in Bangkok on Monday.
“We solve our plan from actions, not words. We can think, talk for a long time but during this time they can kill a million people. More action, more help for Ukraine”, a- he added.
The Thai government has not publicly commented on the invasion, unlike other Southeast Asian countries including Singapore and Indonesia.
The Regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which includes Thailand, issued a statement calling on all parties to “exercise maximum restraint”, including “diplomatic means to contain the situation”.
Pravit Rojanaphruk, a veteran journalist with the Khaosod English news site, believes the Thai government does not want to get involved for economic reasons.
“I think Thailand has good relations with Russia. Russian tourism businesses make up a large portion of Western tourists to Thailand,” he told VOA.
Tourism is crucial to the Thai economy. In 2019, tourism accounted for around 11% of Thailand’s gross domestic product, with around 20% of Thais employed in the tourism sector, according to the Bank of Thailand.
Elsewhere in Asia, pro-Ukrainian protests have taken place in Taiwan and Japan in recent days as both governments announced they would impose sanctions on Russia.