Protesters in Thailand are gathering to commemorate the anniversary of the Siamese Revolution, a bloodless coup in 1932 that ended the country’s absolute monarchy and ushered in constitutional rule.
Groups marching in the capital Bangkok on Thursday made three requests: constitutional reform, the removal of 250 military-appointed personnel from the Thai parliament, and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan Oucha.
When hundreds of people shouted “Prayuth, get out”, the police were dispatched and they headed to the parliament building. They are holding red and white flags and replicas of the iconic plaque commemorating the 1932 revolution.
Thursday’s rally was held a year after the start of a large-scale student-led democratic protest, which caused an impact among the powers in Thailand—especially when the protesters demanded that the power of the country’s respected monarch be weakened. . At its peak, the protests attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators, but due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the momentum has slowed in 2021.
During the march, the protesters shouted “Prayut get out” and stated that they have the right to amend and rewrite the regulations.#Thugs June 24th #WhatsHappeningInThailand pic.twitter.com/5SXksegF7Y
— Thailand Enquirer (@ThaiEnquirer) June 24, 2021
Since the beginning of the campaign, dozens of people have been arrested, and the main leaders have been charged with multiple charges under Thailand’s stringent royal defamation laws. Many people were released without protest, but leaders including Anon Nampa, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok took to the streets again on Thursday-standing at the forefront of the rally.
“The constitution must come from the people,” protest leader Jatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpattararaksa told the crowd in Bangkok.
“In the 89 years since the end of authoritarianism, we have achieved nothing,” he added.
Due to the coronavirus surge, Thai police warned protesters on Wednesday not to participate in the rally.
“Anyone who violates the law during the protest will be punished by law,” said Pakapong Pongpetra, chief of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Department, adding that the authorities “will not use force if it is not necessary”.
Since the beginning of the student-led protests, people’s anger towards Prayut has been on the rise.
Reuters said some of the people who asked the prime minister to resign now include his former allies.
-TNAMCOT English (@TNAMCOTEnglish) June 24, 2021
Political activist Nittitorn Lamula is a veteran of the “Yellow Shirts” movement. He held a counter-demonstration to defend the King of Thailand last year. He will also lead a rally on Thursday to call for Prayuth to step down.
“People must now come out to clean up the dirt in our system,” he told Reuters. “My goals are all for the country, religion, monarchy, people, and democracy. It is this government through their failure and mismanagement that prompted me to stand up again.”
For Niti Ton, the prime minister’s mistakes include not only his government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the economy, but also his failure to adequately defend the monarchy from calls for reform. He also disputed what he said that Prayut failed to restore democracy in the last election in 2019.
The former Army Chief of Staff Prayut first came to power in 2014, when he led a coup d’etat against a democratically elected civilian government. The constitution drafted by the military allows the military-appointed Senate to vote for the prime minister, which helps him continue to govern after a poll was finally held two years ago.
In addition to Bangkok, protests are also planned from Chiang Mai, a tourist city in the north, to Nakhon Si Thammarat Province in the south.
Chulalongkorn University political scientist and director of the Institute of Security and International Studies Ditinan Ponsudilak said: “The public pressure is obvious and growing, and people want answers.”
He said that despite this, it is difficult to see how to remove him because the army and palace are still behind Prayut.
“There is currently no indication that court support has been withdrawn,” Titinan said.
“We are trapped in Prayut indefinitely until the next election.”
The next general election is in 2023.