Examine the hashtags of the youth movement, and you will find the rhyme and reason as to why they are out in the streets to protest.
#เยาวชนปลดแอก (youth for independence) is the call for freedom against the tyranny of the school, the state, and the older generation.
#ประชาชนเป็นใหญ่ในแผ่นดิน (the people rule the land) is the call for democracy.
#เตรียมอุดมไม่ก้มหัวให้เผด็จการ (Trium Udom High School will not bow our heads to dictatorship) is the stance against military rule.
Then there’s a long list of hashtags that begins with the name of a province, a school, or a university, and ends with the word “ไม่ทน,” which means to no longer endure.
What is it that they will no longer endure?
These protestors range from high school to university students and young adults. Take an example of a 16-year-old student.
A year following her birth, the Yellow Shirts took to the streets. By the time she turned two years old, there was a military coup. At four years of age, the Yellow Shirts took to the streets again. A couple of years after, the Red Shirts took to the streets. Then the Whistle-Blowers took to the streets. Then another military coup, followed by some five years of military dictatorship.
Today, she lives under military rule in the disguise of democracy.
But she also lives in a global community connected by social media. She sees youths her age in developed democracies. Those countries are far from perfect, but she sees people her age enjoying freedom, advancements, and opportunities. She sees cities with order and infrastructure. She sees progressive school systems and open societies.
She googles the term “human rights,” then she looks at her country and sees “elite privileges.”
This is the situation she has to endure.
A school system that forces her to crawl on the ground, to have a specific haircut, and to submit to rote learning. A social hierarchy where the inferior (poo-noi) has to bow to the superior (poo-yai). A cultural value that condemns her for asking questions or having her own opinions. A double-standard in the rule of law.
She has the world in the palm of her hand. By touching the screen, she can learn what human rights and democracy are.
So when she looks at her country, she asks:
“What’s with 250 junta-appointed senators?”
“Why does the opposing side keep getting banned, while one side gets away with everything?”
“Why are people being harassed, jailed, and even put in a mental institution for having different opinions?”
She looks at the cast of characters in the government and asks: “Is this what ‘good’ means to the poo-yai in society?”
Then she looks into the future and asks herself:
“Will I have to endure all of this for the rest of my life?”
“Will my children also have to endure this?”
Simply put, in her entire life, she has witnessed the poo-yai made a colossal mess of Thailand.
She will no longer endure.
Hence, the hashtag #ให้มันจบที่รุ่นเรา (let it end with our generation), because she means to change Thailand for the better.
She isn’t just fighting for her future, but also the future of her children.
The question to the poo-yai then is this: Why are you standing in her way?