Although barred from approaching Government House, the protesters dispersed by crowd control police on 18 July left behind a number of clear ‘statements’ including a model guillotine, federalist graffiti, and demands for effective vaccines.
A paper license plate with the number "Ror Or 10 [a reference to both the 10th Reign, King Vajiralongkorn], monarchy reform" (Source: Mob Data Thailand)
Following the brutal clash, public attention and anger focused on the heavy use of force by the police as opposed to the movement’s ad-hoc demands: the resignation of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha; the reallocation of palace and military budgets for Covid-19 assistance; and the replacement of less effective Covid-19 vaccines like Sinovac with mRNA vaccines.
Whether widely seen or forgotten during the storm of rubber bullets, tear gas and confrontations, the messages left by the crowd that gathered that day still resonate.
“We want Federalove”
Speaking of the country without a monarchy is dangerous in Thailand. Especially after the 2014 coup, there were dire legal consequences for those who dared to speak of changing Thailand into a federal republic. Many who fled the kingdom, such as Siam Theerawut, Chucheep Cheewasut and Kritsana Tapthai, ended up disappearing.
A depiction of Democracy Monument, its constitution replaced by the number 112, a reference to Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the royal defamation law. A sticker at the bottom stated "We want Federalove"
Expressions of pro-republican sentiment have re-emerged since the 2020 democracy movement voiced its demand for monarchy reform. This includes expressions like ‘Reform or Revolt’ and Federalove (Sahapantharak) a play on the word Federalism (Sahapantharat).
A sticker with a message “We want Federalove”
A device used for public executions in European countries during the 17-19 centuries, the guillotine was used in the French Revolution to behead thousands of people, including King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.
In the 18 July protest, a mock Guillotine with blue color around the blade edge was brought along on the march and used in a final burning performance.
White bags stuffed with straw and painted red to depict blood, the body bags were originally meant to graphically represent the kingdom’s total death toll from Covid-19, a tragedy exacerbated by state mismanagement.
Although some were seized by police, a number reach the protest site and were used as shields against razor wire, rubber bullets and water blasts.
At the end of the protest, body bags were burned and put on the guillotine, another statement of sorts.
Protesters burning effigies at the Nang Leong Intersection.
Also found at the protest site was a large doll with a strong, mean face carrying the logos of the Charoen Phokphand Group, Singha Beer and Chang Beer, popular beverages produced by the Singha Corporation and ThaiBev companies respectively.
During the protest, the logos of other big Thai companies like Gulf Energy, Red Bull, and King Power were also seen in a truck with protesters carrying the banner “#Labor creates the nation #not feudal parasites”.
Source: Mob Data Thailand
Calls for mRNA vaccine
The country’s current shortage of Covid vaccines is blamed on the slow production of AsraZeneca at Thailand’s Siam Bioscience and a government decision in late 2020 not to join COVAX, a global program to distribute vaccines to developing countries.
Source: Mob Data Thailand
Criticised for “betting on one horse” the government’s dependency on AstraZeneca is blamed for the country’s current difficulties in acquiring vaccines other than the ineffective Sinovac. The government’s ‘vision’ for national vaccine rollout is also blamed for the failure to acquire mRNA vaccines, proved by research and global statistics to be of higher efficacy.
Insulting the Prime Minister
Public criticism of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, junta leader turned Prime Minister, has increased over time.
During the protest, many people vented their fury at the General, who now sits at the helm of the Covid-19 management team, for the government’s ineffective handling of the pandemic, causing sever consequences for the lives and livelihoods of many people.