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Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

For months, protesters in Thailand have called for reforms. This weekend as many as 100,000 protesters descended on Bangkok.

By Cory Wright for
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters walk across a mat featuring images of the current government on the outskirts of Sanam Luang, Bangkok, Thailand, September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters arrive at Sanam Luang, adjacent to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand on September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Ja New, a former protest leader who has recently reemerged, addresses the crowd of protesters at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand, September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters sift through decals on sale on the fringes of Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand on September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

A protester holds a sign during speeches by leaders at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand. September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

A protester holds a sign at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand on September 19, 2020. The sign features Mr. Wuthipong Kachathamakul, an exiled Red shirt activist who was abducted from his home in Laos in 2017.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters shine their mobile phone lights during a musical performance in the late evening hours of September 19, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

A protester is seen at a stall encouraging people to draw caricatures of members of the current government in Bangkok, Thailand. September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters offer free silk screening of t-shirts featuring pro-democracy messages at a stall near Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand. September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters walk past a portrait of the current King near Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand. September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters register to add their names to a petition in order to show support for constitutional amendments in Bangkok, Thailand on September 19, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Authorities occupy roadblocks on the edges of Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace on September 19, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Workers finish placing a roadblock after rumors that protesters would march to government house on the morning of September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Police stand guard on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in anticipation of protesters marching toward government house on September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters install a plaque, part of which reads “At the Dawn of September 20, here is where the people proclaim that this country belongs to the people,” at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand on September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protesters move toward the Grand Palace on the morning of September 20, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul delivers a petition to a police official. The petition seeks reform of Thailand’s Royal institution in Bangkok, Thailand. September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul delivers a petition to a police official. The petition seeks reform of Thailand’s Royal institution in Bangkok, Thailand. September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

A protester holds a sign after demonstrations ceased on September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright
Scenes From Thailand’s Massive Protests Demanding Reform

Police stand guard at a barricade in anticipation of protesters marching towards the Grand Palace on September 20, 2020.

Credit: Cory Wright

On September 19, protest leaders staged the largest political demonstration Thailand has seen since the military took power in 2014. Depending on the estimate, anywhere from 30,000 up to 100,000 people attended the two-day rally adjacent to the Grand Palace. A series of Bangkok-cantered and rural demonstrations taking place across the country over the past eight weeks helped to bring people to Sanam Luang, a public park in central Bangkok, over the weekend. 

Despite the heavy rain forecasted, protesters began arriving around 12 p.m. on Saturday with numbers swelling throughout the afternoon and peaking in the evening hours. Some attendees decided to stay overnight in a show of support and in order to attend events the following day.

In their messages, protesters continued to push what have been largely consistent demands: institutional reform, the resignation of the current government, a rewrite of the constitution, and an end to the harassment of government critics.

On Sunday morning protest leaders began by breaking ground in the public park to install a plaque replacing a missing plate that had commemorated the 1932 revolution. Protesters then continued to move toward the Grand Palace to deliver a petition seeking institutional reform to the Privy Council. They were stopped by police at barricades and roadblocks of parked city buses. Protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul hand-delivered a petition to a leading police official who promised to forward it on to the Privy Council, marking the end of the weekend’s demonstration. 

In their farewell to supporters, leaders announced a call for a general strike on October 14, the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising.

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Cory Wright is a photographer/videographer currently based in southeast Asia. His work includes stories relating to conflict, migration, and the wider effects of incarceration and imprisonment. His website is www.coryjwright.com and his Instagram is @coryjwright