Amidst the on-going pro-democracy protests in Bangkok, members of the One Young World community in Thailand share their personal experiences and perspectives.
Views reflect those of the writers and not One Young World.
Image credit: Gemunu Amarasinghe/Associated Press
The protests for democracy have always been peaceful. On the night of October 16th, the police force armed with batons and combat shields decided to use high pressure water combined with blue chemicals that stick and irritate the skin upon contact. This was done so the police could easily identify the protestors and arrest them on sight. They captured a great number of protestors, their leaders, and a news reporter without warrants. This act of violence has caused a major uproar throughout the country. In the following days, more people joined the pro-democracy protest in various locations around Bangkok, other provinces, and even outside of Thailand. Still, the government continues to disrupt the protest by shutting down public transports to prevent people from traveling to the rallies. They have also prevented a number of unlisted news channels - the ones they cannot control - from live streaming the event. They have completely violated our basic human rights.
Personally, I believe that the best solution is for the prime minister to resign from his position so that we can have a proper election and exercise our rights as citizens of a democratic country. We as Thai citizens have given him a chance to prove himself but we don’t see any progress. Our tax money is being wasted on things that are unnecessary, instead of being used to improve things that really need attention such as the quality of transportation, the education system, inequality, minimum wage, unemployment rates, poverty, and most importantly, the quality of life.
Growing up in Thailand, I have seen several political changes, many coup d'etats. In my opinion, none of them have led us to a true form of democracy. They only took us further away from what we needed - a genuinely democratic state where all citizens’ voices are heard. This time, the young generation could not tolerate what was being done anymore.
All we want is to sustainably reform our structural problems via the system. We come out to exercise our rights in a peaceful demonstration, yet the government still suppresses our freedom. They even irrationally use violence to break up our rallies. I want to lend my voice to the international community so that if my government continues to pretend to ignore our voices, the international community shall know what is happening in Thailand! Please support us in getting real democracy.
The protest in favor of democracy started last year by a group of university students. Protesters are unhappy with how the government operates the country. The situation got very intense after one of the leaders of the protest demanded reform of the monarchy power structure which was seen as an attack on the monarchy.
Apart from the physical violence, many young people have had conflicts with their parents regarding the reform of the monarchy's power. This conflict between the two generations will have to be overcome with lots of love. Time and prosperity will solve the issue.
I would like global institutions like the UN to put pressure on the Thai government to release protestors from jail and condemn the use of weapons on them.
Image credit: Reuters
We can agree to disagree. However, no one should be ignorant of any forms of violence against counterparts just because they have different political opinions from ours. I admire the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand for standing by their fellow journalists especially in this vulnerable moment. Since most demonstrators are high school and college students, I hope that organizations I have long respected, including UNICEF Thailand, will continue to protect and oppose those who infringe on the rights of youth. Your voice matters.
As former the Vice President of the Student Council of Chulalongkorn University, I fully support democracy and any peaceful movement under the constitutional monarchy. I hope that at the end of the day, every party will leave their emotion or bias aside and eventually negotiate, finding common ground and reaching a consensus for our beloved country to proceed.
What is happening in Thailand is, at a certain level, a clash of generations. While older generations were growing up under a certain set of beliefs, younger Thais are significantly more flexible and practical about beliefs and values contribute to their lives. Beyond the clash in values, political misconduct elevated the people’s movement remarkably in such a short period.
One of the 3 core demands of pro-democracy supporters, apart from the departure of the PM and a new constitution, is the reform of the monarchy. It has been the core of the dispute in society. Although Thailand is officially a constitutional monarchy, with the King considered being above politics, the royal institution has a long history of intervening tremendously politics of the nation. The demand from the people, to be simply put, is to correct the role of the monarchy to truly stand under the constitution.
Nonetheless, majority of older Thais have rested their trust in the monarchy, after a lifelong project of the late king who had brought the royal institution back to its glory days and become central to Thai politics. Consequently, the monarchy is perceived as sacred and untouchable, and the reform must not be done. Apart from the crackdown on thousands of unarmed, student-led protesters by the riot police on 16th October, there are several groups of royalists and ultra-royalists bearing the royal yellow colour, marching on streets with some of them violently confronting protesters. There are several pieces of evidence that these groups of royalists are supported by the government, including leaked internal communication within government agencies, and some more explicit acts such as the assembly of senators in the name of defending the monarchy, all wearing royal yellow.
It is highly likely to be a longstanding fight, if not again a coup, between the people and the state since the root of the dispute lies within the core beliefs of Thai. However, it is unlikely that the youths will retreat until real political change occurred, to transform this country into a democracy where power truly belongs to the people.
Image credit: AFP/Mladen Antonov
Thailand, on the cusp of change or at the brink of self-destruction? - An Elephants Heart
Every nation has within it the power to chart its own version of peace, progress and prosperity. Rightfully so, as that is what constitutes the principle of sovereignty. But what use is the above if a nation has forgotten its own people?
The Covid Pandemic was the spark that brought to light the apathy of General Prayuth's government. Billions of dollars were used to purchase useless submarines that have no public utility value but when it came to economic relief for SMEs, funds were tight and fiscal prudence was advised.
Inequality soared to epic proportions. The General's best friend was allowed to flaunt his expensive watches without disdain. On the other hand, poor families were left to quench their thirst on their own tears from hunger.
Volunteers and peer networks stepped up while the government dabbled in their usual games. To the few holding on to power, national security has only served their own interests.
My dear students, know that we are with you. You deserve better - better education, better opportunities and a better life. The fight will be long, days will turn into nights and the light at the end of the tunnel will be a distant dream. But know this, if you don't stand up for yourselves today, you will end up with a fate worse than your forefathers. A slave to five monopolies and a soul ripped apart by the corruption and insensitive bureaucracy of the land. Our great country needs reform, reform the likes that have never been seen before.
Until the rule of law is established, your fight must go on in letter and in spirit. You are the future of this great country and your courage will be the light that will continue to shine for future generations to come. We are stronger together. We have the right and a moral obligation to see our country transform from serving a few, to serving every single one of us, because Thailand is our home. It's time to take back and save our country.
For our readers around the world, particularly those living in countries affected by conflict, we ask you, what does your vision of peace look like?
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