Human Interest

Thailand remembers King Bhumibol with religious rites, flower offerings

Bangkok, Oct 13 (EFE).- Thailand commemorated Wednesday the fifth anniversary of the death of King Bhumibol, who was on the throne for 70 years, with religious ceremonies and floral offerings countrywide.

In the early hours of the morning, a dozen Buddhist bonzes prayed for the late monarch at Siriraj hospital in Bangkok, where he died at 3:52 p.m. local time on Oct. 13, 2016 at 88 after a long illness.

In the afternoon, thousands were expected to lay flowers in the memory of the king, considered by royalists as the “father of the nation”.

Since his death, authorities decreed this day a national holiday.

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha also participated in another commemoration ceremony at the government headquarters, where a huge photo of the king presides over an altar surrounded by white and yellow flowers, colors linked to the monarch.

A religious rite is also scheduled at the Grand Palace in Bangkok to be presided over by his son and current head of state King Vajiralongkorn.

The death of the so-called “king of kings” plunged the country into a long period of mourning that ended a year later when funeral rites were completed with the cremation ceremony, attended by representatives of all the monarchies of the world.

Five years after the death of the revered sovereign, Thailand is immersed in a process of reflection on the role of the crown as a result of the protests started in July 2020 by young university students calling for a democratic reform of the country.

Demonstrations have targeted the Royal House directly, something unthinkable five years ago, by asking to limit the monarch’s interference in politics and reform laws that protect the king and other members of the Thai monarchy from criticism.

At least 150 people, including the main student leaders, have been accused by authorities of transgressing the lese majeste law during demonstrations. The law carries penalties of between three and 15 years in prison for those who criticize members of the Royal Household, according to data from the NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The dissident group Thalufah has called a rally Wednesday afternoon in front of the Bangkok Remand prison, in northern Bangkok, to demand the release of their imprisoned comrades. EFE

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