By Lindsey DeLorie, International News Writer
On Thursday, October 13, Thai King, Bhumibol Adulyadej died at age 88, leaving the country to mourn the loss of their monarch of 70 years. Bhumibol’s body was taken from the hospital and returned to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on the Palace grounds on Friday the 14th followed by thousands of crying Thai people. The country is now in a year of mourning, meaning most colors around the country are gone. Citizens wear black and white, clothing stores are selling mainly black clothing, even Thailand’s red light district has been significantly subdued.
General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the Thai Prime Minister, has labeled the death of the king as a national crisis. Thai people throughout the country are mourning the death of the king as if he were a family member, although the majority of Thai citizens had never even met Bhumibol.
There is a required year of mourning to honor the king, a practice that nearly all Thai people support. All sporting games within the country have been suspended for the next month. Many bars have stopped selling alcohol as the government has passed a mandate stating that people ought to refrain from forms of entertainment during the mourning period, as reported by CNN.
Most Thai people have never known any other ruler in their lifetime seeing as Bhumibol reigned for 70 years. After his death was announced, thousands of people swarmed the streets near the Grand Palace dressed in black and white. Black and white are the mourning colors of the Thai people when they grieve together. One woman expressed, “we lost our father today” to CNN reporters outside the hospital.
Bhumibol Adulyadej will be succeeded by his heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralonkorn, but not until after the official mourning ends. The 64 year old Crown Prince requested to delay his accession to the throne so he too can have a mourning period to the shock of many. There is a great amount of concern that the Crown Prince will not be able to live up to Bhumibol’s legacy.
This shock and concern is not publicized in Thailand due to strict laws regarding the royal family. These majeste laws prevent citizens from openly criticizing the king or any member of the royal family. It is strictly enforced and can lead to 15 years in prison. These laws have been criticized by the UN Human Rights Chief who believe these laws deny the right to political dissent and freedom of speech, according to CNN. Yet the Thai people show such devotion to the late king no one questions these laws. The Thai people have never known another ruler, and the love and respect for Bhumibol is very strong. There is fear that Thailand could become destabilized after losing the leader that unified the deeply divided nation.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 25th print edition.
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