Red Shirts gathered at the Democracy Monument on Sunday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the constitutional monarchy in Thailand. The event was also called a “show of power” to supposed forces that would be attempting to overthrow the current Pheu Thai government.
“Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand’s trajectory toward democratization has often been disputed by non-elected forces that exercise veto power over the popularly elected representatives, and sometimes maneuver to drive those elected representatives from office”, said Human Rights Watch’s in a document published in May.
Since 1932, Thailand has experience 18 coups, 23 military governments, and 9 military-dominated governments since 1932, said the report.
About 30,000 people gathered in central Bangkok, at Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, according to police figures stated by the media. Red shirt leaders spoke at the podium while people listened, played music nearby and had a friendly gathering at the food stalls. The atmosphere was generally festive and gathered supporters from all over Thailand.
“We like Thaksin, we want him back”
The demonstration was also intended to gather signatures for the petition asking for the impeachment of judges in the Constitutional Court who are blocking the discussion about a charter amendment bill.
Former prime-minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the personality behind the Red Shirts, was ousted in a military coup in 2006, and the amendment is meant to facilitate Thaksin’s return to power. He is currently in exile while his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, maneuvers through negotiations in Parliament.
According to UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth, almost 100,000 people had signed the petition by the end of the event on Sunday, said the Bangkok Post. This is twice the number that would be necessary to launch an impeachment against seven of the nine judges.
“We want to get rid of Article 68 of the Constitution”, said Navin Boonseat, former member of Parliament for the Pheu Thai party who was present at the event. The article allows judicial intervention in cases of an attempted overthrow of the existing political system.
“We like Thaksin, we want him back”, said a Red Shirt lady who works as a tour guide in Vietnam and was selling red T-shirts at the demonstration. “He was good for business, tourism and exports”, she said briefly. The ample support for Thaksin and his sister were visible on the shirts and souvenirs with his name and face. DVDs showing his speeches were also being sold among the crowds.
“He made all this possible”, said another supporter, pointing to the whole event.