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Change of guard next year for Ratsadon rallies


The decision by Piyarat Jongthep and the “We Volunteer” group that he founded, also known as “Wevo guards”, on November 30 to leave the “Ratsadon” pro-democracy protesters is expected to create opportunities for other groups to become volunteer guards for the planned political rallies aimed at ousting Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and reforming the monarch.

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Wevo guards had been working as security guards for the protesters during the series of political rallies in Thailand since July.

On November 22, other groups of volunteer guards held a meeting in a bid to organise over 1,500 members and make sure their mission and ideology were on the same page. Eleven groups of volunteer guards joined the meeting -- Plod Aek guards, Muan Chon guards, Ratsadon guards, Thonburi Ratsadon team, Chaphokit guards, Phoenix guards, Special Force guards, White Pigeon team, Vocational students team, Nonthaburi guards and Secure Ranger.

The responsibility of the volunteer guards is to protect the protesters and leaders. They divide their responsible areas at rally venues into zones, each with their own mobile command centre to make sure the situation is always under control.

However, on December 11 protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak from United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration announced that the group will from now on handle security duties of the next rallies by itself and therefore relieved all volunteer guards of their duties. It is speculated that his decision followed suspicions that government national security staff might have infiltrated the volunteer guards to know about the protesters’ strategy.

Although Wevo guards have left Ratsadon, the group still has close ties with Free Youth group, another pro-democracy protester group led by students, who also have been working together since July.

“We will continue to work with Free Youth in their future rallies,” said Piyarat. “From now on we will use the ‘Bangkok Model’, which we have modified from the methods Vietnamese soldiers used against the US army in the Vietnam War, by traversing the labyrinthine routes of Viet Cong cave to complete the guerrilla attacks.”

Piyarat expected to mobilise his guards through the sois and alleys of Bangkok to avoid clashes with the authorities.

“Currently Wevo has at least 500 members who are well trained in security duties and rapid response,” he added. “Wevo guards will be placed in strategic positions throughout Bangkok. We can mobilise in 30 minutes using routes that we had planned ahead, without prior briefing needed.”

The government security team will probably need a new strategy to handle political rallies in 2021, especially now that the Wevo group has changed their role from merely security guards to "rapid response" team.

Published : December 18, 2020

By : THE NATION