Following the massive public demonstrations in Thailand on Wednesday, the Government of Thailand imposed an emergency in the country in the early hours of Thursday. Police officials on television said in a live broadcast that these steps have been taken to maintain “peace and order”. Demonstrations have been banned under this. Many activists, including prominent leaders of the movement, have been arrested. This movement has been going on since last February. In August, agitators demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation and control of the monarchy. This was the first time that the public community had directly opposed the monarchy or the royal family on the streets. There were indications of further intensification of this protest on Wednesday.
Among the arrested leaders are 36-year-old human rights advocate Anon Nampa and youth leader Panusaya Sithijiravattanakul. Last August too, there were mass demonstrations in Thailand. During that time, Anon Nampa broke open taboos and openly held public debate on the monarchy. He appealed to improve this system. P Nusaya had then issued a 10-point manifesto, which included talk of reforming the monarchy. The agitators had then said that their opposition would stop only when these three demands were met – dissolve the parliament, re-write the constitution and the government should stop suppression of critics.
Despite the devastation of the Corona epidemic, there were vigorous protests throughout the week in August. The next phase of the same movement was seen on the streets of the capital Bangkok and other cities of Thailand for the last few days. Emergency has been imposed in the country only to overcome this. It will now be seen how long this can prevent public protest.
Thailand has a long history of political upheaval. But the latest round of protests began in February this year, when the Future Forward Party (FFP), a favorite of the youth, was disbanded. This party came third in the parliamentary elections held in March 2019. Young voters had hoped that this party would liberate the country from long-standing military rule.
Significantly, in 2014, the army took over power by overthrow. He held elections in 2019 under the pressure of massive public opposition. After this election, military dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha became prime minister again. But FFP emerged as a strong voice of opposition. But the party was disbanded earlier this year for allegedly taking illegal donations.
The agenda of the movement started against him has now become to establish genuine democracy in the country. A debate on the monarchy has been raised in this connection, whereas till now the monarchy and the king were considered above criticism and debate. The rulers and middle classes of the country still have similar thinking. But the young man named ‘Red Shirts’ is challenging this thinking. He also has the support of leftist groups and many other anti-monarchy groups in this.
Meanwhile, conservative and vested selfish forces under the patronage of the junta have tightened their grip on the country. The current movement is a mass rebellion against him, in which questions are also being asked that if the king has no role, then what is his usefulness?
The ‘Constitutional Monarchy’ was established in Thailand in 1932. But the king remained a character of social respect. Maharaj Bhoomibol managed to retain this honor to a large extent, but after his death in 2016, the situation has changed rapidly. Bhumibol’s son 68-year-old Vajiralongkarna is currently king, but he lives mostly in Germany. The military rule in the main government has kept him on the edge.