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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid