Protesters in Bangkok have shown their disrespect for the Thai King by turning their backs on a royal motorcade as it passed. People have been rallying for months, demanding the resignation of the PM and reform of the monarchy.
Some 2,500 demonstrators, mostly youths, flocked to the Democracy Monument in the capital on Saturday. The activists used ladders to cover the three-meter-tall centerpiece of the monument with a massive white cloth, which featured various insults and slogans accusing the country’s rulers of stealing the people’s ‘bright future’ and vowing that ‘democracy will prevail.’
King Maha Vajiralongkorn attended a ceremony in Bangkok to open a subway station together with Queen Suthida. Around 8,000 officers were deployed in the capital to provide order, but police said they wouldn’t use force against the demonstrators and largely kept their promise.
The Democracy Monument is located at a traffic circle on one of the capital’s main arteries. When the royal motorcade was passing by, the demonstrators turned their backs to it. They also raised their hands in the air and did a three-finger salute, a gesture borrowed by the from the ‘Hunger Games’ movies.
The royal motorcade just passed as people were saluting the national anthem in defiance. #whatishappeninginthailand#mobfestpic.twitter.com/Jm29Dss5ij
A huge crowd also awaited the King at the railway station, but those were royalists who support him. They wore the yellow colors of the monarchy, waved Thailand’s national flags, and chanted: “Long live the King.”
During the ceremony, the monarch wrote a short message on a card bearing his portrait, which was carried by one of the royalists. It reportedly said:
Think well, do good, be hopeful, endure. Have unity in being Thai.
The royal palace had been reluctant to comment on the protests, which have been taking place in the country since mid-July and have seen thousands take part. The King only said a few weeks ago that the demonstrators were still loved and described Thailand as a land of compromise.
The people who have been protesting every weekend accuse the prime minister, retired general Prayuth Chan-ocha, of rigging last year’s election to remain in power as a civilian, and demand his resignation. They are also targeting the monarchy, criticism of which which has always been taboo in Thailand, calling for the law criminalizing criticism of the monarch to be scrapped, as well as a reduction in spending by the royal family, and limitations on the King’s powers to control national finances and the military.
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