A symbolic marker declaring a new era of people’s power laid ceremoniously Sunday at the site of the weekend’s massive demonstrations didn’t last long.
By early this morning, the brass “People’s Plaque” plaque, which had been installed at dawn to both commemorate the 1932 revolt ending absolute monarchy and declare a new people’s movement, had been ripped from the concrete.
Col. Worasak Pitsitbannakorn of Chana Songkram Police said he was asked by the Department of Fine Arts to remove the plaque from the Sanam Luang because it is a “historical site.” The department’s director Prateep Pengtako said this morning he would file charges against the protest’s organizers for “damaging and devaluing” the site.
While the public had used the Sanam Luang as a gathering place for protests in the past, it has become closely associated with the royal family. King Bhumibol, like his predecessors, was cremated there in 2017.
It’s not clear when exactly the plaque was removed from where it had been embedded in concrete by a stage set up for the two-day rally. The Sanam Luang closed at 10pm last night and reopened at 5am.
The weekend protest drew upward of 100,000 people, though no credible estimate has been made, where both the government and royal institution were openly challenged.
The inscription of the plaque was announced Saturday night by human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, who also gave a heated speech about reforming the monarchy. The next morning at around 6:30am, pro-democracy activists placed the new plaque into the ground. Later on, they presided over a ceremony that included Buddhist monk chants and more speeches before an audience of tens of thousands raising defiant salutes.
The plaque was adorned with the three-finger salute of the anti-government movement. It was dated Sept. 20, 2020, and proclaimed that “The Thai people declare that this country belongs to the people, and is not the king’s treasure as they’ve deceived us.”
In April 2017, the original plaque, a scuffed brass marker honoring where the bloodless 1932 revolt began nearby in the royal plaza vanished overnight. It was replaced by a similar marker extolling the importance of the monarchy.