EbeneInfo – AU – Thai Teens Tell Leaders: « You Are Dinosaurs »

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Thousands of students continue to take to the streets of Bangkok to demand reform of the monarchy, government and education

Outside one of Bangkok’s bustling shopping arcades, crowds of young protesters bounce balloons – gray in color with flecks of melted orange â € “ above their heads

â ???? We will act like a meteorite and strike the outdated ways of the older generations in this country, â € “ protest organizers explained – We will talk about all the topics that dinosaurs don’t want to hear ???? Inflatable dinosaurs wobbled in the afternoon heat, representing the Thai government Symbols are playful, but the message is clear: teens want change

Student-led protest movement rocked Thailand in past five months Young people took to the streets to call for real democracy and risked jail to break a taboo that has long blocked public debate frank on the monarchy Their protests, attended by tens of thousands of people, present one of the most daring challenges facing the Thai royal family in living memory.

Protesters say they are not asking for the abolition of the monarchy, but for it to be reformed, accountable to the people and not above the law They also called on the Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha , a former army general who came to power in a 2014 coup, to step down, and amend the constitution to make the political system more democratic

Few topics were left untouched by the movement At Saturday’s rally, organized by Bad Student, a group that represents school students, protesters called not only for monarchy and government reform, but also to an overhaul of the education system

Students want investments in schools and an end to military influence and rigid hierarchies that continue to dominate classrooms, stifling free speech Bad Students has put the spotlight on abusive teacher behavior from the use of humiliating punishments such as cutting off students… hair if deemed inappropriate, to the continued use of corporal punishment, despite its ban The group also campaigned for better protection of LGBT students Yesterday , a student, dressed in a school uniform and her mouth sealed with duct tape, held a sign that read, « I have been sexually abused by teachers. School is not a safe place. »

– Authoritarianism is not manifested only in the manipulation of elections, it is exercised in everyday life, – said Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, assistant professor of political science at Thammasat University

Students say they want room for freedom of thought and a curriculum that allows for different interpretations of Thailand’s past History always mentions the bright side of Thailand change the story, mentor others, admire someone in the sky, â ???? one speaker said at yesterday’s rally, referring to the king

The current program glorifies the role of the royal family, but includes very little about the most sensitive episodes in Thai history – including the massacre of pro-democracy college students in the 1970s

– The monarchy should be on the agenda, but it should be the truth, – said a 15-year-old who, like all protesters, asked not to be named Her parents, she added , did not know that she had come to protest

On her wrist, she wore a pink bracelet to show that she is under 18 Amnesty International and other rights groups at the rally handed out orange and pink bracelets to indicate whether a protester was elderly under 18 or 15 They hoped it would remind authorities to protect the safety of young protesters

On Tuesday, at a much larger rally organized by university students, water cannons containing chemical irritants were fired at protesters, along with tear gas and gas pepper grenades Despite a massive police presence, opposing groups of « yellow-shirt » royalists and pro-democracy students were allowed to clash, resulting in violent clashes By the end of the night, six people had been shot and dozens treated for other injuries

Students accused police of unfair treatment and failing to protect them At a rally the next day, they shelled the police headquarters with paint

There is a risk of further clashes between royalists and protesters, said Matthew Wheeler, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, who fears such violence – could be a pretext for a coup to restore order

– What comes after a future coup is also of concern If it were to foreshadow a harsh crackdown on dissent, it could spark a wider conflict, ???? he added

Prayuth said last week that « all laws, all articles » would be used to take action against protesters, suggesting that charges could be filed under the harsh lese majesty law. authorities refrained from using the law, which carries a 15-year sentence for anyone who « defames, insults or threatens the king, queen, heir or regent »

Other charges have been widely used So far, 175 people have been charged with sedition, carrying a maximum sentence of seven years, or town hall offenses This includes two of the teenage organizers behind Bad Students – ???? Benjamaporn Nivas, 15, and Lopnaphat Wangsit, 17

Yet as authorities hint at yet another crackdown, protesters have pledged to step up their rallies

They are motivated not only by renewed anger at the police backlash, but also by Parliament’s recent decision to deny one of their main demands change the constitution so that the monarchy is accountable and senators appointed by the army are replaced by elected officials

Instead, MPs and Senators agreed to create a committee to draft reforms Even it will take months, and no changes will be made from the monarchy an institution which, according to the current charter, must be « enthroned into a position of revered worship »

– In the past, at least you pretended to listen to protesters and there is a pseudo-round of negotiations, â ???? said Janjira, who added that the authorities could try to push pro-democracy protesters to be aggressive in the streets in order to justify a crackdown – We come to a very dangerous point, – she said

During rallies, protesters hold placards mocking recent comments by King Maha Vajiralongkorn who, when asked about the protests, described Thailand as « the land of compromise »

– How dare he lie about it The system is not like that at all, â ???? Said a 17-year-old – They don’t listen to our voices They didn’t listen to us because it is not to their advantageâ ????

Thailand, protest, student, Prayut Chan-o-cha

EbeneInfo – AU – Thai teenagers say to leaders: « You are dinosaurs »? ?

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/22/thai-teenagers-tell-rulers-youre-dinosaurs

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