A royal avenue at the centre of Thailand's brewing political conflict

Ratchadamnoen Avenue is both a street in Thai capital and reflection of the whole polity.

A large photo of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida, with elaborate topiary, on a traffic island in Ratchadamnoen Avenue. Above: Former Thai senator Chattawa Klinsuntorn, speaking about Oct 6, 1976, said he saw a half-naked woman being dragged by
Pro-democracy protesters removing potted plants from an area around the Democracy Monument in an attempt to occupy it during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Oct 14. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A large photo of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida, with elaborate topiary, on a traffic island in Ratchadamnoen Avenue. Above: Former Thai senator Chattawa Klinsuntorn, speaking about Oct 6, 1976, said he saw a half-naked woman being dragged by
The new-look Supreme Court with its Thai-style roof line, in a throwback to the traditional buildings used to denote hierarchy.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
A large photo of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida, with elaborate topiary, on a traffic island in Ratchadamnoen Avenue. Above: Former Thai senator Chattawa Klinsuntorn, speaking about Oct 6, 1976, said he saw a half-naked woman being dragged by
Above: Royalists waiting outside Bangkok's Grand Palace on Oct 14 to receive King Maha Vajiralongkorn. ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE
The new-look Supreme Court with its Thai-style roof line, in a throwback to the traditional buildings used to denote hierarchy.
Above: Former Thai senator Chattawa Klinsuntorn, speaking about Oct 6, 1976, said he saw a half-naked woman being dragged by a rope around her neck.ST PHOTO: TAN HUI YEE

The exuberance was palpable as the crowd gathered at Bangkok's Democracy Monument under a darkening sky.

Forming human chains, they carefully removed hundreds of potted plants inside the traffic circle - adornment that made it look more like a medieval French garden than a towering reminder of the day in 1932 when the king was forced to give up absolute power. The protesters said they wanted to reclaim the monument for the people.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2020, with the headline 'A royal avenue at the centre of Thailand's brewing political conflict'. Print Edition | Subscribe