Protesters in Bangkok have shown their disrespect to the Thai King by turning their backs on a royal motorcade as it passed by. People have been rallying for months, demanding the resignation of the PM and reform of monarchy.
Some 2,500 demonstrators, mostly youth, 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, that featured various insults and slogans accusing the country’s rulers of stealing the people’s ‘bright future’ and assuring 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 won’t be using force against the demonstrators and largely kept on their promise.
The Democracy Monument is located at a traffic circle on one of the capital’s main arteries and when the royal motorcade was passing by, the demonstrators turned their backs to it. They also raised their hands in the air and did the three-finger salute, a gesture borrowed by the Thai protesters from the “Hunger Games” movies.
A huge crowd was also awaiting the King at the railway station, but those were royalists, who supported him. They wore yellow colors of the monarch, waved Thailand’s national flags and chanted: “Long live the King.”
During the ceremony, the monarch wrote a short message on a card with his portrait, 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 had been taking place in the country since mid-July and saw thousands taking 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 going out every weekend, are accusing Prime Minister, retired general Prayuth Chan-ocha, of rigging last year’s election to remain in power as a civilian, and demand his swift resignation. They are also targeting the monarchy, 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 military.
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