Thailand is amid historic protests against the monarchy, as tens of thousands took to the streets of Bangkok on Sunday, with a stronger-than-ever demand to end feudalism from the south Asian nation.
Thousands (some sources say numbers crossed 200,000) of protesters, mostly students, gathered in front of the King’s Palace in the capital Bangkok and demanded an end to the Thai King’s military-dominated regime, that has been in power for decades.
The marchers, what is being seen as a daring show of protest, installed a plaque near the palace declaring Thailand ‘belongs to the people.’
The commemorative, dated 20 September 2020, proclaims in Thai: “At this place, the people have expressed their will: that this country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us,” Reuters news agency reported.
Cheers erupted as the plaque was cemented, saying “Down with feudalism, long live the people.” Protestors also demanded the current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha be removed, who came to power in 2014 following a disputed election.
The action is particularly remarkable given the fact Thailand is a heavily guarded monarchy, where the king is held in high regard, and any actions opposing the regime are punishable by long terms and secret trials in jail.
One student from the protest, Panasaya “Rung” Sitthijirawattanakul, 21, took to a public stage on Saturday and directly addressed the Thai King, an act, punishable by imprisonment for 15 years by common law.
Protests against the Monarchy in Thailand has started since June, with the last few weeks seeing the highest upsurge in the intensity. On Saturday, thousands defied police and protested in the country capital, home to the throne.
On Sunday, protestors declared ‘victory’ after handing over the list demands for dethroning the monarchy to the Bangkok authorities.
Police did not intervene the mostly peaceful protest. A police spokesperson told Reuters, it was up to the Bangkok authorities to determine if to arrest or procecute protestors for the actions.
“The new generation is achieving what their parents and grandparents didn’t dare. I’m very proud of that,” said Somporn Outsa, 50, a veteran protestor of Monarchy was quoted as saying.
As per Thailand’s constitution, “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship” and that “no person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action”.
The lese-majeste law gives provision that subjects anyone to secret trials and long-sentence in prison who criticizes the Royal Family and its affairs.