Thais celebrate 90th anniversary of 1932 Revolution

On Friday (24 June), Thais gathered to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the 24 June 1932 Siamese Revolution, which marked the change from an absolute monarchy to a democracy whereby the King is bound by the Constitution and which is claimed to be the beginning of the path to democracy in Thailand.

An activist led the march while carrying a replica of the People's Party plaque (photo by Anna Lawattanatrakul)

Events took place in several provinces to commemorate the revolution. In Bangkok, people gathered at the Democracy Monument before marching to the nearby Lan Khon Muang Town Square, in front of the Bangkok City Hall, where a festival was held.

Ahead of the event, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) declared Lan Khon Muang one of seven venues where public assemblies are permitted.

Participants in the march holding a banner calling for marriage equality (Photo by Anna Lawattanatrakul)

Participants flashing the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute while marching to Lan Khon Muang (Photo by Anna Lawattanatrakul)

The march was led by a group of activists carrying a replica of the People's Party Plaque, a small metal plaque marking the spot where Khana Ratsadon, or the People's Party, announced the regime change in 1932, and a row of flags stating the People's Party's Six Principles.

The plaque was originally installed in the asphalt near the Equestrian Statue of King Chulalongkorn and marked the spot where the People's Party read out their first declaration. The plaque went missing in April 2017. So far, no one has taken responsibility for the disappearance and the plaque has not been found.

One of the participants dancing while carrying a red flag saying "Repeal Section 112," calling for the repeal of the royal defamation law (Photo by Anna Lawattanatrakul)

At Lan Khon Muang, two stages were set up where activists and members of civil society spoke about various social and political issues. There were also music and food vendors. Civil society organizations, including iLaw and Amnesty International Thailand, also set up booths to sell merchandise and for paticipants to sign various petitions put forward by the organizations. Meanwhile, the Move Forward Party set up a table campaigning for governor elections in every province.

Participants were also seen carrying campaign banners, from those calling for the repeal of the royal defamation law and the release of political prisoners to marriage equality and education reform.

The gathering at Lan Khon Muang (Photo by Anna Lawattanatrakul)

Activists from the monarchy reform group Thaluwang conducted a poll on whether Thai people truly have rights and freedom after 90 years, in which an overwhelming majority of participants said no. (Photo by Anna Lawattanatrakul)

The monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang also came to conduct a public survey, asking whether Thai people truly have rights and freedom after 90 years. Before they came to Lan Khon Muang, they also conducted the same poll in the Siam shopping district. An overwhelming majority of participants said no.

The event was originally planned to conclude at 22.00. However, it was cut short by heavy rain. The remaining participants danced in the rain while the Commoner Band and the performing art network RasaDrum performed, and the event was called off at around 21.00.

A play was staged at the Three Kings Monument in Chiang Mai (Photos by Jarik Krobtong)

Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, local activists organized a gathering at the Three Kings Monument to commemorate the 1932 Revolution. During the event, the performance art group Lanyim Theatre staged a play “Khuang de la République,” exploring the long period of change since 1932. The play was followed by a panel discussion on the People’s Party’s 6 principles and the dream of the student movement. Before the event concluded, the organisers read out the People’s Party’s first declaration.

The performance at Tha Pae gate (Photos by Wanna Taemtong)

At the same time, performance artists Sutasinee Karnsomdee and Nuntana Wongtawee staged a performance at Tha Pae gate, a tourist landmark in the centre of Chiang Mai.

The event at Khon Kaen University

In Khon Kaen, the student activist group Ratsadon Khon Kaen organized an outdoor concert at Si Tan Lake in Khon Kaen University campus. During the event, organisers conducted public polls on marriage equality, whether education should be part of state welfare, and whether the royal defamation law should be repealed. Several banners were seen hanging around the venue calling for marriage equality, education reform, freedom of expression, state welfare, and decentralization of provincial government.

The students also put up a banner protesting the Faculty of Law’s decision to name a room in the faculty building after Constitutional Court judge Taweekiat Meenakanit, saying that they did not consent to the renaming, and that Taweekiat is not a full-time lecturer at the university.

Students at Burapha University conducting a poll on provincial governor elections

There were also reports that students at Burapha University were harassed by police officers during an event commemorating the 1932 Revolution,  which took place on campus. 5 – 10 plainclothes police watched the event, took pictures of participants, and asked people for information about the event and the organisers.

The banner saying "People's University"

During the event, students conducted a poll on whether every province should be allowed to elect its own governor. A banner saying “People’s University” and another saying that the National Day is 24 June and not 5 December were seen hanging from the building where the event was held. Another “People’s University” banner was also seen hanging in front of the canteen at Kasetsart University’s Sriracha campus.

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