Jump to content

Protests in Bangkok


Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Thai protesters march to royal guard barracks in Bangkok

Pro-democracy rallies have raised pressure on Thailand’s royalty and military in past week

Thousands of protesters marched to a barracks belonging to Thailand’s royal guards in Bangkok on Sunday, demanding that King Maha Vajiralongkorn give up control of some army regiments, the latest show of defiance against the country’s powerful monarchy and the military.

The protest comes after days of rallies in the Thai capital, where a student-led pro-democracy movement that emerged in July has intensified pressure on the establishment. Over recent months, demonstrators have shaken the country by criticising the monarchy, an institution protected by a harsh defamation law, and demanding the king relinquish some of his vast power and wealth.

On Sunday evening, protesters marched to the 11th Infantry Regiment, one of two army units that the king brought under his direct command in 2019.

In a statement, protesters accused the king of having “expanded his royal prerogative in every way possible including [through] the military” and referred to the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army general, as the king’s “royal puppet”. Copies of the statement were folded into paper planes and flown in the direction of riot police who stood guard outside the barracks.

Protesters later splashed red paint on the ground in front of officers, referencing the deadly army crackdown on anti-government redshirt demonstrators in 2010. The army base was barricaded with buses, which were removed by protesters, as well as loops of barbed wire. Many on the frontline wore gas masks and hats for protection, though the evening passed peacefully.



Protesters carrying inflatable ducks on their way to the 11th Infantry barracks. Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

Above their heads, protesters carried a flock of giant inflatable ducks, which have emerged as an icon of the movement after they were used by demonstrators to shield themselves from water cannon.

Yellow ducks can be seen everywhere at recent rallies: fixed on the top of protesters’ protective hard hats, sold on souvenir stalls and worn on hair slides. At one protest last week, protesters even gave out coupons that featured a duck wearing a crown, which could be exchanged for street food.

The authorities have responded to the recent protest movement by reviving the country’s strict lese-majesty law, reportedly summoning as many as 15 protesters to answer charges in the last week alone. Under the law, anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent” can face up to 15 years on each charge.

Among those facing charges is Parit Chiwarak, known also as Penguin, who has been accused over comments made at previous rallies. On Sunday, he challenged the king’s military power. “An army should belong to the people, not the king,” he said. “In a democratic system, the king is not responsible for directing command of the military.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...