Bangkok is witnessing a great demand for the production and purchase of things in the shape of a yellow duck, including hats, hair clips, shirts and slippers, since pro-democracy protesters used inflatable ducks to protect themselves from water cannons that police resorted to last month to disperse them.
The inflatable duck was originally supposed to serve as a boat for activists who wanted to get close to the Thai parliament while it debated possible reforms to the constitution, given that it is on the bank of a river.
However, this attempt failed because of the heavy deployment of the police, and their resort to the use of water cannons and tear gas against the crowd. However, images of protesters taking shelter in yellow duck-shaped boats, and using them as shields, quickly spread on the Internet.
The yellow duck is a symbol of the protests in Thailand
Since that day in mid-November, the yellow duck has become a symbol of the protests that have shaken Thailand for months, and have raised several reform demands, including those related to the monarchy, which is considered taboo.
In a few days, duck-inspired items of all kinds became abundant on the street vendors.
“We want to make the protests (…) filled with creative ideas that show our tendency to protest peacefully and without violence,” said soap bubble seller Ratikarn Sayhor.
As for Sam, a 30-year-old protested, he noticed that the ducks helped the protest movement to victory over the authorities in the war of images.
“We have some beautiful ducks to confront heavily armed police, and this shows that we are the best.”
This is not the first time that the yellow duck has been used as a symbol of defiance and protest.
In 2013, a sculpture by Dutch artist Florentine Hoffmann was exhibited in Hong Kong Harbor as an inflatable duck 16 meters high and quickly became the focus of controversy.
A netizen altered a famous image of cracking down on protesters in Tiananmen, Beijing, in 1989 by replacing Chinese tanks with ducks, prompting the Beijing regime to block all internet searches using the phrase “big yellow duck.”
Giant rubber duck dolls were also the subject of protests in Brazil in 2016 during a campaign to oust the leftist then-presidency, Dilma Rousseff.
The yellow duck also became a symbol of protest in Russia in 2017 when it emerged that then-prime minister Dmitry Medvedev owned several luxury properties, one of which featured a pond built in the center of which was a duck house.