In period costume, Thai activists recreate defining moment of 1932 revolution

Protesters, some in costume, rally early Wednesday morning at the Democracy Monument to commemorate the 1932 revolt that brought democracy to Thailand. Photo: Democracy Restoration Group
Protesters, some in costume, rally early Wednesday morning at the Democracy Monument to commemorate the 1932 revolt that brought democracy to Thailand. Photo: Democracy Restoration Group

Dozens of pro-democracy activists gathered at the Democracy Monument early this morning to commemorate the 88th anniversary of the bloodless June 24 revolution by attempting to re-enact one of its most decisive moments. 

Police officers were awaiting their arrival at the symbolic roundabout on Ratchadamnoen Avenue as protesters arrived to stage a recreation of the reading 88 years ago of the so-called Promoters’ manifesto in the nearby Royal Plaza. Some protestors wore period costumes of the Khana Ratsadon, or People’s Party, which led the revolt.

“Today, 88 years ago was the last day of the absolute monarchy, the dawn of democracy,” rights lawyer Arnon Nampa wrote of the event. 

Photo: Democracy Restoration Group / Facebook
Photo: Democracy Restoration Group / Facebook

After police warned attendees they would be arrested if they violated the law – likely referring to the Emergency Decree granting absolute power to authorities, ostensibly to fight the coronavirus.

At least one activist, Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, said after the event that he had been told by police that there was a warrant for his arrest. Toto said he would turn himself in to the Chana Songkram Police Station at noon. 

Pro-democracy activist Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep at the Wednesday rally. Photo: Piyarat Chongthep
Pro-democracy activist Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep at the Wednesday rally. Photo: Piyarat Chongthep

The protesters in the end were allowed to project a hologram of the 1932 declaration onto a raised canvas. It included a scene portraying Khana Ratsadon leader Phraya Phahonphonphayuhasena reading the statement. 

https://www.facebook.com/democracyrestoration/posts/2861552380640927

Some activists also carried recreations of a plaque commemorating the event in the Royal Plaza until its secretive removal three years ago. It was replaced in 2017 another similar marker bearing royalist inscriptions. 

Commemorating what was once a widely celebrated anniversary has become a subversive act in recent years, as other past symbols of the birth of Thai democracy have been erased from existence.

Police obstruct a gathering early Wednesday morning at the Democracy Monument to commemorate the 1932 revolt that brought democracy to Thailand. Photo: Thai Lawyers For Human Rights
Police obstruct a gathering early Wednesday morning at the Democracy Monument to commemorate the 1932 revolt that brought democracy to Thailand. Photo: Thai Lawyers For Human Rights

Instead, social media, primarily Twitter, has become a refuge for political dialogue among Thais. As of Wednesday morning #June24 has been Thailand’s top-trending hashtag on the platform. 

The same rally to commemorate the event that happened nearly nine decades ago was to take place at a few other venues nationwide, such as Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen and Democracy Bridge in Ubon Ratchathani. 

A Bangkok street snack shop today was even offering a limited-edition commemorative pancake – 88 cakes – resembling the revolutionary plaque. 

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