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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.