Tens of thousands of the new young generation of Thais are challenging the idea of an inviolable Monarchy, fighting for their own rights and freedom.
These protests began at the beginning of the summer, initially student-led and organized through social media. Some of the motivations for the protests include the unfair wealth gaps, treatment of the students at Thai public schools, corruption in the government, military funding, and the disappearance and killings of activists. A public demand announced towards the government especially including the following: To eliminate the lese-majeste law, to make its investments transparent and taxable, to take away the monarch’s legal immunity, to suspend all forms of monarchic propaganda, and to make it illegal for the monarch to support the coup d’état, which gained many supporters varying from different social classes and generations.
“I don’t think I can travel to Thailand for the rest of my life,” Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong tweeted after his Thai experience of getting deported for speaking at an event created by Thai activists. “The people from two different places are facing similar difficulties while fighting for the same goal: that is, democracy and freedom.”
In October, tens of thousands of protestors asked for the resignation of Prayuth. After this event, a decree was based on Thailand’s section 112, the Royal Defamation Law. Under this section, anyone convicted of insulting, threatening, or defaming any person of the royal family, including content shared or posted on social could face up to three to 50 years in prison for each count. Citizens are angered as the law itself can be reported by anyone and the punishment is equivalent to manslaughter. Protestors can also easily be accused by the government in the name of protecting security.
“It is extremely corrupted,” 11th grade Thailand student Suphitcha Tappatarnpornsuk said in a text interview. “There are some good aspects, but I feel like our leaders lack empathy for lower-class citizens. They are very power-hungry and will shut down anyone who tried to speak against them.”
Some students are even getting kicked out of their homes or supporting the movement because their parents object as they are pro-establishment. In recent events, a Thai activist was arrested and is being accused of causing harm to the queen or monarchy and is trying to prove his innocence.
“Now it is really telling that at this point I am going to lose my freedom and my will to live. To fight for this case, I will have to risk everything in my life, my family and my friends,” the activist said in a video posted on Instagram “While I still breathe, I will be hoping for my freedom to be returned and for my innocence to be proven. I hope that the causes that I fight for will still be here.”
Violence is escalating as tear gas and water cannons are used by the police against the protestors in the pro-democracy movement incident with pro-monarchy demonstrators. “It’s affected my everyday life,” Suphitcha Tappatarnpornsuk said. “I have to make sure I get home before the protests and somedays I get stuck for hours because the roads are blocked. It’s unsafe for kids and even adults to attend because you never know when it’s going to turn violent.”
The civilians have taken this issue to social media to spread awareness on what is going on in their country with the hashtag #WhatisHappeninginThailand on different platforms. They will continue to fight for their freedom and rights at whatever cost.