Thongchai Winichakul, one of the world's best known scholars on Thailand and Southeast Asia and a prominent student leader from the 1976 Democratic Uprisings at Thammasat University in Bangkok will offer a historical overview of Thai people's struggles for democracy and freedom.
In this webinar, we shall discuss the Thai students’ movement history and involvement in the protests, and the merits and demerits of their three main demands. We shall also reflect on whether this phenomenon could spread to other monarchical countries around the region.
At first glance, the Thai monarchy’s deceptions, manipulations, and silence appear far less fragile than the good silences recounted in Thongchai’s text. Crudely put, monarchic silence is motivated by self-preservation. It continues to deploy an extensive panoply of coercive and cultural power to protect its privileges, albeit to declining effect.
Now that core leaders of the protests are in custody, the authorities are ramping up their suppression of demonstrators, and the possibility of life imprisonment has been mooted, it seems hard to imagine where this movement goes from here.
FORSEA issues the strongest condemnation statement against the Thai government. It urges the government to lift the emergency decree, release all those arrested, return free space for the people, and most importantly, stop using violent tactics against the protesters.
Thai student protests are not just to shame the government, they also wanted to reform the monarchy – a long-held taboo in the Land of Smiles. The demand for immediate monarchical reform is now an official objective of the protesters.
Here lies a problem. Nataphol’s ministerial position is undoubtedly a conflict of interest. He is running a private international school and at the same time heading the Ministry of Education, Thailand.
Over the years, thousands of Burmese dissidents have received support and space from Thai communities, politicians and even governments in Bangkok. They now call for solidarity protests across Southeast Asia in support of young Thai protesters on the streets of Bangkok.
Thai society needs to be able to speak openly now about the role of the monarchy. For decades, the Thai monarchy has dominated the Thai political space, firmly supported by the military.