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McDonald's Has Unwillingly Been Pulled Into the Thai Protests

McThai, which operates McDonald’s in Thailand, told activists to “cease and refrain” from using their logo without permission.
Photo via Reuters

McDonald’s has become a central player in Thailand's unfolding political crisis, and it’s not too pleased about it.

McThai, the company that operates McDonald’s in Thailand, released a statement on its Facebook page Wednesday saying the company is firmly “maintaining a neutral stance in the current political situation.”

The statement comes after one particular McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Bangkok has turned into the site for many of the anti-coup protests in the past week, and a hub for activists, because of its centralized location. Other McDonald's locations throughout the country have also been turned into meeting places for activists to protest the military's takeover of the government last week.


McDs should hand out happy meals RT — G. Matthew Hammond (@DJTravelinMatt)May 25, 2014

Troops outside Amarin Plaza Mcdonald’s, 9:50 am. — Newley Purnell (@newley)May 25, 2014

Unhappy meal: Anti-coup protest at Bangkok McDonald's in defiance of junta — NBC News (@NBCNews)May 25, 2014

Meanwhile, several Thai activists posted pictures on social media that replaced the M in "democracy" with McDonald's famous golden arches. This led the company to add in its statement that activists should “cease and refrain” from using its logo without permission and that they would take "appropriate measures" if activists continued to use it.

Photo via Facebook/Araya Panyapitakwong

"We believe that such acts can be carried out with the intention of pursuing certain political interests," said the statement.

Despite McDonald's attempts to distance itself from the political situation in Thailand, anti-coup activists called today for a massive rally over the weekend, set to begin at the McDonald's in Bangkok.

Police arrest 101 McDonald’s workers ahead of shareholders meeting. Read more here.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928