Thousands of Thai pro-democracy protesters march on royal barracks wielding rubber ducks against armor-clad riot police to demand the King give up his regiments
- Police defended by banks of barbed wire kept the demonstrators back from the King's Guard HQ in Bangkok
- Rubber ducks are a symbol used by the pro-democracy protest movement to mock the heavy-handed police
- Protesters are demanding King Maha Vajiralongkorn renounce his claim on the royal army regiments
- Comes after months of protest against the royal-backed junta which has ruled over Thailand since 2014
- Demands for reforms have sent shock waves through Thailand's royalist political and military elite
Thousands of protesters marched on Thailand's royal barracks last night holding inflatable rubber ducks - a symbol used by the peaceful pro-democracy movement to ridicule the police.
Heavily-armored officers defended by shields and banks of barbed wire kept the demonstrators from getting close to the King's Guard headquarters in Bangkok on Sunday.
Protesters are demanding curbs on of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's power, including that he renounces his claim on several of the royal army regiments.
The months of demonstrations against the monarchy - once-taboo due to a draconian royal defamation law - have reverberated through the ruling political class.
Sunday's protest - the latest in a series of near-daily turnouts across the capital - was meant to target the 11th Infantry Regiment.
Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for a political and monarchy reform at the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the King's Guard regiment in Bangkok, Thailand, on Sunday night
Riot police stand guard behind barbed wires and inflatable yellow ducks during an anti-government demonstration in the Thai capital
Thousands of protesters marched on Thailand's royal barracks last night holding inflatable rubber ducks - a symbol of the peaceful pro-democracy movement
Along with the 1st Infantry Regiment, the two units were placed under King Maha Vajiralongkorn's direct control last year - a move experts saw as a way for the monarch to assert more authority.
'These two regiments have been involved in cracking down on people in the past,' said prominent protest leader Parit 'Penguin' Chiwarak.
'They have also played key roles in past coups.'
The black-clad protesters wore hair clips with yellow rubber ducks, while those on the frontlines donned gas masks and helmets - prepared for any potential skirmishes with authorities.
Two water cannon trucks were parked at the entrance, which was covered with coils of barbed wire. Police in riot gear stood guard outside.
'The things used against us are bought using our taxes, so they are using our money to hurt us,' Farng, a 30-year-old graduate student, told AFP, declining to provide her full name.
A protester hurls red paint at riot police stationed outside the royal barracks last night
Hundreds of heavily-armored officers stand guard outside the royal barracks as inflatable ducks are thrown at their feet
Riot police use shields as cover from red paint thrown by protesters during a rally outside the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment,a palace security unit under the direct command of the Thai king, in Bangkok
Anti-riot police officers are deployed behind barbwires during an anti-government street protest calling for a political and monarchy reform at the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the King's Guard regiment in Bangkok, Thailand, 29 November 2020
Anti-government protesters march with inflatable rubber ducks during a street protest calling for a political and monarchy reform at the 11th Infantry Regiment, the headquarters of the King's Guard regiment in Bangkok
'As taxpayers, the army should be serving us, not the monarchy,' she said. 'Their duty should be to protect people.'
Protesters folded into paper planes a 'people's declaration' - which called for the regiments to be transferred back - and flew them across the barriers to the stone-faced police.
They also threw red paint at the feet of the police to signify the security forces' role in violent crackdowns on previous pro-democracy movements, before rallygoers dispersed at about 10 pm.
The military has long positioned itself as a defender of Thailand's enormously wealthy royal family, who boast assets conservatively estimated to be some $30-$60 billion.
In the name of protecting the king, the army has staged more than a dozen coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.
The most recent was in 2014.
Coup mastermind General Prayut Chan-O-Cha was head of a junta regime before renewing his lease on power in elections last year, which were governed under a military-scripted constitution.