Thais defy warnings to mark anniversary of 1932 revolution

BANGKOK (AP) — Anti-government activists in the Thai capital yesterday commemorated a military coup that toppled the absolute monarchy almost nine decades ago, defying official warnings and police harassment.

The gathering was one of several around the country to mark the day in 1932 when a group of progressive army officers and civil servants proclaimed constitutional rule and the transition to parliamentary democracy.

Government and police officials who made thinly veiled warnings against celebrating the anniversary had made clear that they also consider such activities to be subversive and undermining the country’s constitutional monarchy.

Both the government and its critics see commemorations of the 1932 event as a challenge to the continuing influence of the military in government and hyper-royalist sentiment. There was a reconciliation between the army and the royal palace in the 1960s, and since then they have been the country’s two most powerful establishments.

Organisers said about 100 people gathered at Bangkok’s iconic Democracy Monument. Police moved in as the demonstrators began to erect a white sheet as a projector screen and tried to pull it down. After a short struggle they relented and let the event go ahead.

The gathering could be deemed illegal under current emergency regulations as a measure to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

In steady predawn rain, the crowd watched a video re-enactment of the revolutionary proclamation, played on the makeshift screen. Two activists stood to the sides, dressed in period army uniforms.

A policeman tries to stop anti-government activists to project a video in front of Democracy Monument in Bangkok. PHOTO: AP