News / Asia

Thailand's Anti-Government Protesters Invoke Monarchy

FILE - An elderly man listens to King Bhumibol Adulyadej make a speech on a giant screen, on the king's 86th birthday at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Dec. 5, 2013.
FILE - An elderly man listens to King Bhumibol Adulyadej make a speech on a giant screen, on the king's 86th birthday at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Dec. 5, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
As Thailand’s political deadlock continues, anti-government protesters are accusing Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister and backer of the ruling party, of working against the country’s revered monarch. Disloyalty to the king is a serious crime in Thailand and Thaksin's supporters say the charge is nothing more than a political smear.

Royalists in Thailand's anti-government protest movement have long accused former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of undermining the King, the country's most revered figure.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban argues Thaksin wants to use his sister, the current prime minister, to remake the country as a republic with himself as president.
 
Such allegations are routinely aired by protesters like Duangjai Amarttayakun.

"Yes, I agree with Khun Suthep. And so are most of the Bangkokians. The reason that more Bangkokians come out, or more people come out from all over the country, was because of this," Duangjai said. "You know, he was trying to bring down the monarch."
 
Defaming Thailand's King Bhumiphol Adulyadej can carry a prison sentence for up to 15 years under the punitive “Lese Majeste” laws. The revered king remains widely popular and has long been seen as above Thailand’s political disputes.
 
That popularity, says Noppadon Pattama one of Thaksin's lawyers and a ruling party lawmaker, is why politicians like Suthep imply defamation offenses for political purposes.
 
"He would like to draw the crowd to his rally because Thai people love the King.," Noppadon said. "Anyone who is against the King would be discredit(ed) or would be demonized as an enemy of Thailand. Which, Dr. Thaksin, he loves his King."

Noppadon spoke to VOA in the "Thaksin Shinawatra Library" at the ruling Pheu Thai party headquarters.  Three empty bookshelves that were once full of writings by Thaksin stand empty after they were ransacked by protesters.
 
At the entrance, across from the library, is a large photograph of Thaksin kneeling at the King's feet in reverence.

While the King has not intervened in the country’s current deadlock, some Pheu Thai supporters have said they suspect he endorsed the military coup that unseated Thaksin in 2006. Since then, anti-Thaksin rallies have been defined by protesters’ yellow shirts and other royal imagery.
 
But in the current standoff, protesters are wearing less yellow and seem to be avoiding large displays of the monarchy, notes academic and independent legal expert Verapat Pariyawong.
 
“I think, and I would predict, that the monarchy itself sent some form of signals to these protest leaders that I don't want to be used as your symbols anymore," Verapat said. " If you want to fight you can fight but don't use the picture of the King. But, I can't say that as I don't have the fact to back it up. And, if I have the fact to back it up I would say it, if there's no Lèse-majesté law.”
 
The frail 86-year-old King has made no direct, public comments on the recent unrest except on his birthday when he urged unity among Thai people.
 
But analysts say Thailand remains divided and Thaksin's opponents blame him for splitting the country and interfering in politics as an un-elected leader.
 
The protesters want what they call the "Thaksin Regime" removed from Thai politics by forcing out the current government and Thaksin loyalists, who they say are corrupt.
 
The telecoms tycoon, who championed populist policies in Thailand's rural northeast, lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a prison sentence for abuse of power.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid