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October 15, 2020, 04.10 PM

A pandemic lockdown, which sent Thailand's economy into freefall, exposed the chasm between the billionaire class and the poor.

Read also: IMF Sees Worsening Economic Outlook for Emerging Markets

And in June, prominent activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who had been living in self-exile in neighboring Cambodia, disappeared.

Activists in Thailand lit up Twitter with their demands for answers.

The online campaign spilled offline mid-July and a wave of protests across the country began, with up to 30,000 turning out in mid-September for what was the largest gathering since the 2014 coup.

Wednesday's protests in Thailand, in particular, have drawn the ire of authorities because of the reaction of protesters encountering a royal motorcade.

Some protesters held up the three-fingered salute — a gesture of defiance the pro-democracy movement has borrowed from the popular "Hunger Games" books and films — as the royal motorcade carrying Queen Suthida passed by.

We've seen Thai protests before. What's different?

True, Thailand has seen a cycle of violent street protests and military coups over the decades. But in the past, the protest movements had vast financial and political clout behind them.

Today's student demonstrators say there is no single leader — a strategy partly inspired by the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

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