A plaque declaring that Thailand belongs to its people, which was laid into the ground by pro-democracy protesters near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, has been removed less than 24 hours after it was installed.
“I’ve received a report that the plaque is gone but I don’t know how and I don’t know who did it,” Bangkok’s deputy police chief Piya Tawichai told Reuters news agency.
The plaque, which featured a hand giving the three-fingered salute that has been adopted by the protest movement, was dug into the ground on Sunday after a weekend rally by tens of thousands of people who cheered calls for reforms to the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
“Police are checking with the BMA [Bangkok Metropolitan Administration] y of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. and checking who took it out as the plaque is part of the evidence to charge the protest group [for this wrongdoing],” Piya said.
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Khaosod English, a digital newspaper, reported the golden-coloured plaque, a replica of one commemorating the 1932 revolt that brought an end to the absolute monarchy, had gone missing between 10pm and 5am local time when the area was closed to the public.
The original plaque went missing in mysterious circumstances in 2017. This time, the police warned that the plaque was illegal because protesters did not have the authorities’ permission to install it.
Anon Nampa, an activist and human rights lawyer who is one of the protest movement’s most prominent figures, said the plaque should be returned to the people.
“We will go and file a complaint to police today to find that plaque, which is the people’s property and who took it,” Anon told Reuters.
Protesters have grown ever-bolder during two months of demonstrations against Thailand‘s palace and military-dominated establishment, breaking a long-standing taboo on criticising the monarchy, which is illegal under the country’s stringent laws on lese majeste.
More rallies are planned for Thursday and protest leaders have also called for a general strike on October 14.