News / Asia

Thai Protesters Latest to Don 'Guy Fawkes' Masks

Masked Thai protesters holding placards and banners stage an anti-government rally  in Bangkok, May 31, 2013.
Masked Thai protesters holding placards and banners stage an anti-government rally in Bangkok, May 31, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
Protesters in Thailand have become the latest to wear stylized Guy Fawkes masks made popular in the 2005 Hollywood film V for Vendetta.  The mask has been used in protests around the world against alleged abuse of power.  But in Thailand's color-coded politics, it is not just the anti-government demonstrators who have taken up the mask. 

Hundreds of protesters on Sunday marched through Bangkok's central shopping district. The demonstrators held signs and chanted slogans against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Protests against the government are nothing new in Thailand, where critics accuse the prime minister of being a puppet of her brother.  And, by Thai standards in recent years, this one was quite small.

Protesters wearing masks shout slogans as they march though Bangkok's shopping district, June 2, 2013.Protesters wearing masks shout slogans as they march though Bangkok's shopping district, June 2, 2013.
x
Protesters wearing masks shout slogans as they march though Bangkok's shopping district, June 2, 2013.
Protesters wearing masks shout slogans as they march though Bangkok's shopping district, June 2, 2013.
But for the first time, anti-government demonstrators wore a symbol of protest being used internationally, the white stylized mask of Guy Fawkes.

The British conspirator was arrested in 1605 for a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, assassinate the King and replace the monarch with a Catholic.

The dramatic, opera-like mask was popularized in the Hollywood film V for Vendetta and has black eyebrows, a Van Dyke style beard, rosy cheeks and a smile.

Protester Wara Naranong says the masks were a show of peaceful unity against Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters, known as the Red Shirts for the color they wear.

"He asked everybody, the Red Shirts, to burn our country.  You know, and he… they not respect our king," said Wara Naranong.

She was speaking to VOA outside of a department store that was gutted by arson during 2010 Red Shirt demonstrations.

Thai ''Red Shirts'' anti-government protesters gather in front of the gate of the Bangkok Remand prison, Bangkok. (File photo)Thai ''Red Shirts'' anti-government protesters gather in front of the gate of the Bangkok Remand prison, Bangkok. (File photo)
x
Thai ''Red Shirts'' anti-government protesters gather in front of the gate of the Bangkok Remand prison, Bangkok. (File photo)
Thai ''Red Shirts'' anti-government protesters gather in front of the gate of the Bangkok Remand prison, Bangkok. (File photo)
​The Red Shirts occupied Bangkok's shopping district for two months demanding new elections after politicized court rulings removed pro-Thaksin governments from power. 

Soldiers sent in to end the stand-off clashed with armed elements among protesters, leaving 90 people dead, most of them civilians.

Thaksin was twice popularly elected but overthrown in a 2006 military coup. He fled into exile to avoid jail time for a corruption conviction. 

Royalists claim he was disloyal to Thailand's revered monarchy.  His supporters say elites in Bangkok feared his growing popularity.

Later Sunday, a smaller group of government supporters also rallied in the shopping district.  But instead of just red shirts some of the 20 or so demonstrators also wore stylized Guy Fawkes masks, made of paper and, of course, painted red.

Red Shirt protester Nopporn Narnchaingtai says they want Thailand to be a real democracy where election results are honored.

"Because we vote for the governments and then some… some people in behind [the scenes].  They always should back the power of the people.  They not respect what the people want.  So, today we call for democracy," said Nopporn Narnchaingtai.

Thailand has had 18 coups or attempted coups since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

Since the one in 2006, the country has been split between staunch supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra and his opponents, known as the Yellow Shirts for the color they usually wear.

Origin of the mask

The stylized Guy Fawkes mask was designed by comic book artist David Lloyd for the story V for Vendetta before it became a film.

It was about a lone hero who takes up the image of Fawkes to fight against a fictional, fascist British government of the future.

The mask was first used in protest by Anonymous, a group of activist computer hackers, in 2008 against the Church of Scientology. 

They have since been worn by demonstrators in Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the United States.

In the United States, the mask became a symbol of the Occupy Wall Street protest.  It also featured during the so-called Arab Spring democracy uprisings.

In February, the Kingdom of Bahrain banned the import of the mask, apparently out of fear they would be taken up by anti-government protesters there ,as well.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dave from: Bangkok
June 05, 2013 5:47 AM
Funny how VoA didn't cover the pro-democracy Red Shirt rally in central Bangkok on May 19th which had over 100,000 protesters present.

Also funny how VoA don't mention that this V mask group are explicitly connected to the Thai extreme-right wing and anti-democracy groups and held up banners calling for another military coup.

Poor coverage from VoA.

Stick to the facts please.

In Response

by: JonSnow from: Castle Black
June 11, 2013 6:26 AM
100,000 protesters? seriously ? They were armed. The Red shirt leaders even told the people to "Burn.. Baby Burn" the city of Bangkok by themselves. Thaksin doesn't symbolize democracy, he symbolizes greed and money.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid