søndag 22. november 2020

Thai teenagers tell rulers: ‘You’re dinosaurs’

Outside one of Bangkok’s busy shopping arcades, crowds of young protesters bounce balloons – coloured grey with patches of molten orange – above their heads. “We will act as a meteorite and hit the outdated ways of the older generations in this country,” the protest organisers explained. “We will talk about all the topics that the dinosaurs don’t want to hear.” Inflatable dinosaurs wobbled in the afternoon heat, representing the Thai government. The symbols are playful, but the message is clear: teenagers want change.

A student-led protest movement has shaken Thailand over the past five months. Young people have taken to the streets to call for a true democracy, and have risked jail to shatter a taboo that has long prevented frank, public discussion of the monarchy. Their protests, attended by tens of thousands, present one of the boldest challenges that the Thai royal family has faced in living memory.

Demonstrators say they are not calling for the monarchy to be abolished, but for it to be reformed, accountable to the people and not above the law. They have also called for the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army general who came to power in a 2014 coup, to stand down, and for changes to the constitution to make the political system more democratic.