The Thailand junta running the country warns that there will be retribution for anyone who tries to disrupt the nation’s mourning. Thailand is grieving since King Bhumibol Adulyadej died. The king was a popular figure in Thailand and the country is feeling the loss. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was respected and the people had much sympathy for their king. After his death some even decided to get tattoos with the king to honor his memory. But if there was any dissent, the military junta clearly stated that they are prepared to put it out.
The Leader of the Junta Warns against “Insensitive Remarks”
General Prayuth Chan-ocha is the leader of the military junta that is in power in Thailand. The junta has been running the country for the past two years. However, the monarchy was still the source of political power in the country. The king guaranteed that with his authority. So, it’s understandable that General Prayuth Chan-ocha would feel strongly about respecting the period of mourning. But the leader went as far as to say that the reaction to any disruption would be a violent attack. According to a spokesman for the military junta, General Prayuth said that “insensitive remarks” or behavior could receive physical retribution.
It’s been a week since King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away. The monarch was 88 years old and had been suffering from health problems for some time now. So, the death of the king with one of the longest reigns in the world wasn’t out of the blue. But the event still took Thailand by surprise. The country seems ill prepared to go through a transition of power.
If anything, the death of the king has acted as a destabilizing factor in Thailand. The situation may have given way to paranoia for some, who wouldn’t want to see any group take the king’s funeral as an opportunity. In that sense, General Prayuth’s stark warning acts as a reminder to all that the nation-wide mourning must be respected.
Strong Measures for the Mourning of the King
Since the king passed away last Thursday there have been arrests under lèse majesté laws. These laws protect the royal family from any conceivable offense. Thailand has some of the strictest lèse majesté laws in the world. They are so harsh that people are cannot even discuss the royal family. Under these very strict laws, five people were arrested since Thursday.
Another occurrence in this Thai period of mourning is the appearance of vigilantes who want to ensure that everybody respects the mourning. There are reports that ultra-royalist mobs have attacked people. They have beaten people or forced them to prostrate themselves before an image of the late king. So far, no legal action has been taken against these groups of people.
Some in Thailand feel that the military junta is using the lèse majesté laws and the authority of the dead king to quash any opposition. The laws are there for defamation of the royal family. But the Thailand junta uses them arbitralily.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun is an associate professor of politics at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University.
“The junta continues to use the law to undermine opponents as part of stabilizing the new throne. Even when it will be counterproductive.”
Says Pavin Chachavalpongpun.
Image source: here.