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Thousands of Thai democracy protesters march with rubber ducks on royal barracks


Thousands of protesters marched into Thailand's royal barracks with inflatable rubber ducks last night – a symbol used by the Peaceful Movement for Democracy to mock the police.

Heavily armored officers defended by shields and barbed wire benches prevented protesters from near the King & # 39; s Guard headquarters in Bangkok on Sunday.

Protesters are demanding a curtailment of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's power, including renouncing his rights to several regiments of the royal army.

The month-long demonstrations against the monarchy – once taboo due to a draconian royal defamation law – have found expression in the ruling political class.

Sunday's protest – the last in a series of almost daily turnouts in the capital – was intended to target the 11th Infantry Regiment.

Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Royal Guard regiment in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday evening

Riot police guard barbed wires and inflatable yellow ducks during an anti-government demonstration in the Thai capital

Riot police guard barbed wires and inflatable yellow ducks during an anti-government demonstration in the Thai capital

Thousands of protesters marched into Thailand's royal barracks with inflatable rubber ducks - a symbol of the peaceful movement for democracy - last night

Thousands of protesters marched into Thailand's royal barracks with inflatable rubber ducks – a symbol of the peaceful movement for democracy – last night

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn wipes his forehead off his forehead during an excursion in Bangkok last week

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn wipes his forehead off his forehead during an excursion in Bangkok last week

Together with the 1st Infantry Regiment, the two units were placed under the direct control of King Maha Vajiralongkorn last year – a relocation expert saw this as an opportunity for the monarch to assert more authority.

"These two regiments have been involved in fighting humans in the past," said prominent protest leader Parit & # 39; Penguin & # 39; Chiwarak.

"They have also played a key role in previous coups."

The black-clad protesters wore hair clips with yellow rubber ducks, while those at the front put on gas masks and helmets – prepared for possible skirmishes with the authorities.

At the entrance there were two water cannons covered with coils of barbed wire. The police in protective clothing stood guard outside.

"The things that are used against us are bought with our taxes, so they use our money to hurt us," Farng, a 30-year-old doctoral student, told AFP, declining to give her full name.

A protester hurled red paint at the riot police stationed outside the royal barracks last night

A protester hurled red paint at the riot police stationed outside the royal barracks last night

Hundreds of heavily armored officers stand guard outside the royal barracks while inflatable ducks are thrown at their feet

Hundreds of heavily armored officers stand guard outside the royal barracks while inflatable ducks are thrown at their feet

Riot police use shields as protection from red paint thrown by protesters during a rally outside the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment, a palace security unit under the direct command of the King of Thailand, in Bangkok

Riot police use shields as protection from red paint thrown by protesters during a rally outside the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment, a palace security unit under the direct command of the King of Thailand, in Bangkok

Police officers are deployed behind barbs during an anti-government street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Kings Guard Regiment in Bangkok, Thailand on November 29, 2020

Police officers are deployed behind barbs during an anti-government street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Kings Guard Regiment in Bangkok, Thailand on November 29, 2020

Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Kings Guard regiment in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Kings Guard regiment in Bangkok

"As taxpayers, the army should serve us, not the monarchy," she said. "Your duty should be to protect people."

The demonstrators folded up a "popular declaration" in paper planes calling for the regiments to be repatriated and flew it over the barriers to the stone-faced police.

They also threw red paint at the feet of the police to denote the role of the security forces in violent raids against previous pro-democracy movements before the rallyers dispersed around 10 p.m.

The military has long positioned itself as the defenders of Thailand's hugely wealthy royal family, whose fortunes are conservatively estimated at $ 30 billion to $ 60 billion.

In the name of the protection of the king, the army has carried out more than a dozen coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

The last one was in 2014.

Coup mastermind General Prayut Chan-O-Cha was head of a junta regime before last year he renewed his power contract in elections governed by a constitution with military scripts.

An anti-government protester removes barbed wire during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Kings Guard regiment in Bangkok

An anti-government protester removes barbed wire during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Kings Guard regiment in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters remove a bus and barbed wire alongside a line of anti-riot police during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Royal Guard Regiment in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters remove a bus and barbed wire alongside a line of anti-riot police during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform in the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the Royal Guard Regiment in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform

Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform

A rubber duck is thrown over the barbed wire at the police

A rubber duck is thrown over the barbed wire at the police

In addition to royal reform, the demonstrators are also calling for Prayut to be deposed as prime minister and for the constitution to be recast.

To date, numerous people have been charged with sedition, while at least a dozen prominent leaders have been asked to question them on allegations of royal defamation.

The demonstrations have been largely peaceful since the movement began in July.

However, earlier this month at least six people were shot dead in a chaotic protest in which police used water cannons and tear gas against the youth.

Thai anti-government protesters three fingers greet and shout slogans during a street protest calling for political and monarchical reform in Bangkok

Thai anti-government protesters three fingers greet and shout slogans during a street protest calling for political and monarchical reform in Bangkok

A Thai Buddhist monk (C) joins anti-government protesters who march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform

A Thai Buddhist monk (C) joins anti-government protesters who march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for political and monarchy reform

It is unclear who opened fire, and officials say they are investigating the incident.

The demonstrators are not deterred by the increased tactics of the police. One of them told AFP Sunday that the use of force only increased his determination to support the movement.

"The authorities have their guns, we only have ducks – it would look bad if they used force," said 33-year-old Peter, declining to give a full name.

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