Thai protesters take on authorities in 'rubber duck revolution'

Thai protesters take on authorities in 'rubber duck revolution'

Demonstrators move inflatable rubber ducks during a rally in Bangkok
Demonstrators move inflatable rubber ducks during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand on Nov 18, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

BANGKOK: On top of a giant yellow inflatable duck, a rebel Buddhist monk in saffron robes displayed a defiant three finger salute at a protest in central Bangkok.

Scores of the pool toys bobbed through a crowd about 20,000 strong on Wednesday (Nov 18) as activists descended on the Thai national police headquarters to throw paint and scrawl obscene anti-royal slogans on the streets.

The cute yellow birds are fast becoming a symbol of the Thai protests after demonstrators used them a day earlier as shields against the burning spray of police water cannon and tear gas at a rally near parliament.

Tuesday saw the most violent confrontations since the rallies kicked off in July - six people were shot during scuffles between royalists and democracy activists.

READ: Thai PM says all laws to be used against protesters

A monk at a Bangkok rally Nov 18, 2020
A man wearing monk robes and a gas mask carries a water pistol as he holds up the three-finger salute during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Nov 18, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov)

Yellow inflatable ducks are fast becoming a symbol of the Thai pro-democracy protests
Yellow inflatable ducks are fast becoming a symbol of the Thai protests. (Photo: AFP/Jack Taylor)

The youth-led movement is demanding a new constitution, making unprecedented calls to reform the untouchable monarchy, and for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Footage of Thailand's so-called "rubber duck revolution" has gone viral on social media this week.

"If the politics are good, ducks will only be used in the pool," one Twitter user remarked.

"Here you go, the most terrifying weapon from the protesters' side: An inflatable duck," a Facebook user wrote.

"Duck is a fighter, no matter how much people bully him, he still keeps smiling," a Thai man tweeted alongside a picture of a battered and slightly deflated duck.

READ: Protesting the Thai way: With pork barbecue

Large inflatable ducks are lined up on the road in Bangkok Nov 18, 2020
Large inflatable ducks are lined up on the road during an anti-government rally at a major intersection in Bangkok on Nov 18, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov)

Thailand's 'rubber duck revolution' is calling for a new constitution, reforms to the
Thailand's "rubber duck revolution" is calling for a new constitution, reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Photo: AFP/Jack Taylor)

The duck protest appearances have also inspired a bevy of artwork.

Thai artist Wannasin "Matthew" Inpin used a tablet computer to whip up a cartoon of a part-duck part-strong man figure protecting protesters.

"Rubber ducks are very fragile and I think it is not a fair fight at all but I think this act shows the protesters? fearlessness and strength to fight back," he told AFP.

"That's why I drew the duck as a strong animal who protects protesters and is not afraid of dictatorship."

The inflatable pool ducks are retailing on Lazada Thailand, an online shopping portal, for 499 baht (US$15).

DUCKS GONE GLOBAL

It's not the first time the bathtime buddies have been used as symbols of defiance and protest.

In 2013 Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman's 16m inflatable duck sculpture floated in Hong Kong's harbour but swiftly became mired in controversy.

COMMENTARY: The Milk Tea Alliance sweeping through Thailand is a force to be reckoned with

A demonstrator uses a shield as a protection against water cannons during an anti-government protes
A demonstrator uses a shield as a protection against water cannon during an anti-government protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

Demonstrators use inflatable rubber ducks as shields to protect themselves from water cannons durin
Demonstrators use inflatable rubber ducks as shields to protect themselves from water cannon during an anti-government protest outside the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

A Weibo user edited a famous image from the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, replacing tanks with ducks prompting a Chinese government internet search ban on "big yellow duck".

Giant inflatable rubber ducks featured in protests in Brazil in 2016 during a push to impeach then-president Dilma Rousseff and highlight the economic "quackery" of her government amid a downturn.

And they also became a symbol of protest in Russia in 2017 when it emerged then-prime minister Dmitry Medvedev had multiple luxury estates including one that featured a special house for ducks on a pond.

READ: Thai police fire tear gas, water cannon at parliament protest

A rubber duck in Bangkok
A rubber duck is seen on the fence outside the National Police's Central Investigation Bureau in Bangkok on Nov 18, 2020. (Photo: Pichayada Promchertchoo)

A pro-democracy protester walks with an inflatable duck during an anti-government rally in Bangkok
A protester walks with an inflatable duck during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Nov 18, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Jack Taylor)

Source: AFP/zl

Bookmark