Pro-Monarchy Rally to Go Ahead Amid Concerns of Clashes

Anti-government protesters at the Democracy Monument on July 27, 2020.
Anti-government protesters at the Democracy Monument on July 27, 2020.

BANGKOK — A pro-establishment movement on Wednesday announced that they will proceed with the plan to hold a rally tomorrow to counter the ongoing anti-government protests, despite the Prime Minister’s concern over possible confrontation.

The call for a counter-protest against the student-led demonstrations in recent weeks was made by a group calling themselves “Polytechnic for the Nation.” It was scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Democracy Monument, the same day when student activists will hold a simultaneous rally at King Taksin Monument in western Bangkok.

The news brought back spectres of pro- and anti-government protesters clashing with each other on the streets of Bangkok, sometimes resulting in death, prior to the military takeover in May 2014. 

Even PM Prayut Chan-o-cha – a figure known for his hostility to pro-democracy protests – has urged the counter-protest to back down and seek a solution through the parliamentary channel instead.

“I have ordered police to prevent them from confronting each other,” Prayut said. “My fear is that it the situation could escalate and bring us back to the old days. Therefore, I have asked the polytechnic students to refrain from coming out at the moment.”

In their Facebook post, the organizers of the counter-protest said their gathering is not a protest, but a “symbolic act” defense of the monarchy. 

“We will express our stance to protect the monarchy,” the group wrote. “After reading out a declaration, we will sing the Royal Anthem together.”

Many conservative and pro-monarchy figures have denounced the university student-led protests against the government as an anti-monarchy plot due to subtle references to the monarchy made by both speakers and demonstrators.

Chanasongkram police superintendent Worasak Pisitbannakorn said the group has asked police permission to assemble in the public.

He said police would deploy officers to keep the gathering in order in the same manner as the previous protests.

According to media reports, the group was formed by polytechnic students in 2013 to protest against a controversial amnesty bill put forward by Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

The group did not respond to messages seeking inquiry as of press time.