Protesters hand over letter to Privy Council


  • Thailand
  • Monday, 21 Sep 2020

In black and white: Rung submitting the letter to Phukphong as protesters shield her during a rally in Bangkok. — The Nation/ANN

Protesters ended their two-day rally for democracy after pulling off a surprise by submitting a letter to the Privy Council, outlining their demands to reform the monarchy.

After honouring the national flag at 8am, the Thammasat Coalition leaders came up together on the stage.

Parit Chivarak, one of the leaders, surprised everyone when he announced that they would be submitting a letter to the Privy Council with 10 points for reforming the monarchy.The protesters had all along been getting ready to march to Government House, when Parit announced the “biggest surprise” by saying they would be heading to the Privy Council office.

He emphasised to the protesters to use peaceful means, avoid clashes, control their emotions in the face of police confrontations and “go home safely”.

He also urged Gen Surayud Chulanont, president of the Privy Council, to personally come out and receive their letter.

At 8.45am, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, one of the leaders, was allowed to come up to the police line in front of the Supreme Court to submit the open letter outlining 10 points to reform the monarchy.

A huge number of protesters waited on the road in front of the Supreme Court.

At 9.01am, a representative of the Privy Council, Pol Lt-Gen Phukphong Phongpetra from the Metropolitan Police Bureau, accepted the letter.

Rung walked back from the police line with co-leader Arnon Nampa, announcing victory.

“Our greatest victory in the two days is showing that ordinary people like us can send a letter to royals,” Parit told the crowd.

Some observers believe the protest leaders had deliberately misled everyone by announcing plans to march to Government House when they actually intended to go to the Privy Council Office. The protesters, however, were blocked by police near the Supreme Court and they ended up submitting their demands to a police officer, who received it on behalf of the Privy Council.

At the biggest demonstration in years, tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday cheered calls for reform of the monarchy as well as for the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former junta leader, and a new constitution and elections.

Shortly after sunrise yesterday, protesters cemented a plaque near the Grand Palace in Bangkok in the area known as Sanam Luang, or Royal Field.

Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said police would not use violence against protesters and it was up to the police to determine and prosecute any illegal speech.

Bangkok authorities would need to determine whether the plaque is illegal and if it would need to be removed, Bangkok’s deputy police chief Piya Tawichai told reporters.

Far from all Thais support the new plaque, which resembles one that had commemorated the end of absolute monarchy in 1932 and which was removed from outside a royal palace in 2017, after Vajiralongkorn took the throne.

Prominent right-wing politician Warong Dechgitvigrom said the actions of the protesters were inappropriate and that the king was above politics.

“It didn’t achieve anything,” he said.

“These actions are symbolically against the king, but the king is not an opponent.”

Thai authorities have said criticising the monarchy is unacceptable in a country where the king is constitutionally “enthroned in a position of revered worship”.

Protests that began on university campuses have drawn increasing numbers of older people.

That includes red shirt followers of ousted populist prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who had clashed for years with pro-establishment yellow shirts before Prayut seized power in 2014. — Agencies

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Privy Council , Protesters , rally , monarchy

   

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