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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukraine PM Warns Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid