BANGKOK — About a hundred people gathered before dawn on Wednesday across Democracy Monument to commemorate the 88th anniversary of a revolt that ended the king’s direct rule in Thailand, then known as Siam.
The highlight of the rally was a white cloth banner on which activists illuminated with a black-and-white video of reenactors proclaiming the beginning of a democratic rule. Some activists also dressed up in army uniforms as worn by the revolutionaries who seized power in 1932, a clique of civilians and military officers known as the People’s Party.
The reenactment was observed by about twenty police officers in uniform and half a dozen plainclothes police. The rally was generally peaceful, though there was a scuffle when police attempted to force the protestors away from the street.
One of the activists, Chonticha “Lookkate” Jangrew, 27, said more young people are interested in the largely forgotten history of the 1932 uprising, even though its significance has waned throughout the years.
“Interest among the youth about the 1932 revolt is really on the rise,” she said.
Another demonstrator was a 21-year-old female student from Suan Dusit Rajabhat University who only introduced herself as Mind due to fears of repercussions.
“I came here today to demand for my rights. I don’t think we are in a real democracy today,” Mind said. “I have become interested in the People’s Party over the past few years.”
She added that her curiosity was heightened by the mysterious disappearance of several monuments associated with the 1932 revolt in recent years, such as the Defense of the Constitution Monument at Laksi intersection.
Another protester, a 33-year-old government worker who only introduced himself as Kittikhun, shared his thoughts. “I already like the ideology to begin with. I learn a lot from Facebook,” Kittikhun said.
Asked what he thought of the presence of around police officers at the protest site, Kittikhun said. “I think they are alarmed. They fear that we will know about history and how it can reach the point of a revolt.”
The government has not planned any activities to mark the historic day of June 24, once celebrated as Thailand’s National Day.
Just over a kilometer away, at the site around the Royal Plaza where the soldiers assembled for the coup nearly nine decades ago, police were stationed since Tuesday night to cordon off the area from any protesters.
Rallies were also held outside Bangkok to commemorate the revolt anniversary. In Khon Kaen, activists gathered at the Democracy Monument, where they held banners and cleaned up the memorial together.
In Ubon Ratchathani, activists held portraits of the revolutionaries and read their proclamation on Seri Prachathipathai Bridge, which was built by the order of the People’s Party.