Vow to restore missing Thai democracy plaque Sunday thunders from protest stage

Arnon Nampa speaks on stage on Sept. 19 at a demonstration at Sanam Laung. Photo: Coconuts
Arnon Nampa speaks on stage on Sept. 19 at a demonstration at Sanam Laung. Photo: Coconuts

The human rights attorney whose calls for royal reforms exploded into a new era of Thai politics vowed from a protest stage late Saturday night that a symbol to the birth of democracy that vanished three years ago would be restored tomorrow.

Following unrestrained comments about the once-unassailable institution that cannot be published here – which were met with the most thunderous applause of the night – Arnon Nampa said they would reinstall a plaque commemorating the 1932 revolt that ended absolute monarchy.

“When Sept. 20 dawns, we will declare together that this country belongs to all the people …,” he said, adding comments that cannot be published out of legal concerns.

Protesters throng Bangkok’s royal field to demand change and challenge taboo

It was Arnon’s calls for 10 royal reforms at an August rally that shattered generations of taboo about an institution that had been held up as divine providers to which the kingdom owed its fealty.

Tens of thousands of protesters filled the Sanam Luang, or royal field today, which they declared Sanam Ratsadon, or the “People’s Field” in the latest and largest rally so far. Though no estimates were available – some organizers claimed 200,000 – the crowd could have approached 100,000.

File photo of the memorial plaque

Tomorrow morning, a march on the Government House had been expected, but word got out that it would instead make for another destination. Organizers have been tight-lipped when asked whether the destination might be a venue associated with the monarchy.

The plaque referred to by Arnon is a potent symbol. It marked the spot where the 1932 revolt’s leaders declared an end to the king’s rule.

In April 2017, the small brass plaque vanished overnight and was replaced by a similar plaque extolling the importance of the monarchy.

Arnon referred to the new plaque as the “second Kana Ratsadon plaque.”

Arnon, who has campaigned for the return of democracy since the 2014 coup d’etat, has been arrested multiple times and charged with sedition since the August rally where he unveiled the controversial 10 demands for royal reform.

Additional reporting Chayanit Itthipongmaetee


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