Protestors in Thailand are risking it all to demonstrate against the monarchy and current regime. The protests across the country, but particularly in the capital of Bangkok, continue to grow as the dissatisfaction with the status quo intensifies.
Thailand is not a country with freedom of speech, especially when it comes to the Thai Royal Family. The nation has stringent lèse majesté laws that carry up to a 15-year prison sentence for insulting or defaming the monarch or member of the Royal Family. Those who protest have been arrested and insulted by many of the royals’ supporters.
Thailand’s current monarch, King Rama X, has been on the throne since the death of his father, the beloved King Rama IX in 2016. He and his wife, Queen Suthida spent the majority of the year outside of Thailand. The King resides in a hotel in Germany with his harem while the Queen stays in Switzerland.
King Rama X has assumed more power since he took the throne four years ago when a new constitution gave the King more emergency powers. He has also personally taken control of military units and certain assets. He does not like to be challenged, and Rama X has reportedly ordered the kidnapping and murder of Thai dissidents in Asia.
Ten Thai dissidents have been murdered abroad since 2016 including Wanchalearm Satsaksit who was abducted in June from Cambodia. His murder was reportedly ordered by the King and carried out by the King’s security chief. The King is said to be furious with the ongoing protests and wants action taken against those criticising the monarchy.
To show the significant threat posed to those who protest against the monarchy, last month foreign-based critics of the monarchy were subject to surveillance and suspicious packages, according to a well-known journalist critical of the monarchy.
Andrew MacGregor Marshall revealed on Twitter that he and several other dissident journalists have been “targeted in August by people who surveilled our homes, followed us and sent packages intended to intimidate us.”
Thais who live in Los Angeles received packages showing they had been followed with threatening mail via a FedEx package from Thailand. Those who sent the packages with evidence of the surveillance wanted to make it clear to the Thais who have criticised Rama X that they know where they live and how to get to them.
These demonstrators and dissidents want their country to have free and fair elections with a new constitution to curb the King’s increasing power. They want democracy in their country and the freedom to express themselves without the fear of unreasonable punishment. These brave protestors know the risks of going out in the streets, and they are willing to risk it all to have more freedoms and fairness in their country.