Thailand's powerful army chief has declared that the country's government is virtually at war with its critics, warning that politicians and intellectuals may "manipulate" young people to stage protests like those in Hong Kong. Gen. Apirat Kongsompong in a speech Friday charged that "hybrid warfare" incorporating methods such as online propaganda and more traditional violent means was already being employed in Thailand to destroy the nation.Gen. Apirat Kongsompong said former communists who never gave up efforts to seize power were masterminding the alleged plot. He linked them to opposition politicians whom he didn't identify by name, but clearly included the head of the third biggest party in parliament. Thailand's military frequently stages coups during periods of political unrest, though the current government is led by a former army chief and coup maker.
Hundreds of masked protesters yelling "Revolution Now!" crammed the sidewalk in front of Hong Kong's High Court and spilled onto the street in an impassioned show of support on October 9 for an activist appealing a six-year prison sentence for his part in a violent nightlong clash with police. As a prison service bus with mesh-covered windows drove Edward Leung away after the hearing, supporters pressed up against the vehicle, briefly blocking traffic, and held five fingers up in their air. That symbolizes the five demands of Hong Kong's protest movement for direct elections, amnesty for arrested demonstrators and other wishes. The fate of his appeal was not immediately clear.
Leung, the activist, emerged as one of the figureheads of protest in Hong Kong after 2014's failed nonviolent demonstrations over Beijing's decision to restrict elections. Among supporters who gathered outside Wednesday's hearing was Kenny Lee, 23, who said Leung "has inspired a lot of Hong Kong people, especially our young people." Even jailed, Leung's activism still resonates as Hong Kong is again gripped by protests that have snowballed since June. "He started spreading his idea a few years ago but at that time, not many people really understood him and some even criticized him," said J. Sze, a supporter in her twenties. "Now, some people start to agree with his idea, maybe a little bit late," she said. Leung has been an advocate of independence for Hong Kong, which reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997. He was sentenced in June 2018 for his role in Feb. 8-9, 2016, an outbreak of violence in the city's working-class Mong Kok district.