Facebook users have joined an anti-government campaign by changing their profile pictures to the white mask of Guy Fawkes and posting messages against the Thaksin regime on government websites and FB pages that support the former PM.
The FB users posted a message that said: “The people’s army has awakened. We pronounce here that we will bring down and eradicate the Thaksin regime from Thailand.”
This message was posted repeatedly on websites of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the Facebook pages of Thaksin, his sister Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, his son Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra, and the Government House website Thai Khu Fah.
The campaign is the latest by government critics. Earlier, a group of people formed Thai Spring to campaign online against the prime minister for making a “biased and damaging speech” while attending an international conference in Mongolia.
The Guy Fawkes white mask, popularised by the movie “V for Vendetta”, has become a symbol of civil disobedience against corrupt use of government power in many countries.
The mask was used during the Occupy Wall Street protest in the United States against capitalism. Julian Assange, the Australian activist who founded WikiLeaks, also put on this mask during his protest in London. In Thailand, the mask was worn during a protest outside the US Embassy over criticism of the lese majeste law.
The wearing of a white Guy Fawkes mask has become popular since “V for Vendetta” became a hit for Warner Bros in 2005. The movie features a revolutionary who urges people to rise up against a corrupt totalitarian regime.
ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap said yesterday that FB users had a constitutional right to express political opinions, as long as they conform to the law.
He said authorities would take no action against those involved in the campaign, as they had not broken any law. But legal action would be taken if there was a complaint of damage from the state agencies or individuals involved.
Pheu Thai Party MP Korkaew Pikulthong said he did not believe an anti-government movement with the mask of Guy Fawkes would get public backing and become popular because only a few people were involved.
“As long as the government works hard to gear the country toward fast development growth, people will not side with an anti-government movement,” he said.
Korkaew, a red-shirt leader, urged people not to create an atmosphere of conflict because the PM and the government were trying to create a good political atmosphere and push the country out of “the black hole.”
Guy Fawkes is a figure from British history. He was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot against the reign of King James I in 1605.
History had it that Fawkes was placed in charge of gunpowder stockpiled at an undercroft beneath the House of Lords. Prompted by the receipt of an anonymous letter, the authorities searched Westminster Palace and found Fawkes guarding the explosives.
Over the next few days, he was questioned and tortured, and eventually broke. Immediately before his execution, Fawkes, 35, jumped from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck.
Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in England since November 5, 1605.