08/18/2020, 12.41
THAILAND
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Thai government should heed the people’s voice, young student protesters

by Anand Prasert

Most Thais fear protests will be crushed. Thailand is not split: the old and young have the same wish for freedom. A small clique holds the country hostage. The time has come to transform the country along democratic lines. Some hope for dialogue between the authorities and protesters.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – On Sunday, thousands of people, especially young students, staged another protest against the authorities in the capital. Some of them were arrested by the police.

Public pressure has been building up recently, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, who came to power six years ago in a military coup.

Prayuth has been at the helm of a civilian government since last year, but for his critics the election that formally ended military rule was rigged.

Protesters are calling for the government to resign, the end of the dictatorship, democratic constitutional reform, and a review of the role of the monarchy. In the country, the king is a sacred figure, and any offence against him is punished with jail time.

Here is one point of view expressed to AsiaNews.

Most people in the country have no voice, breath, strength, desire and cannot see any point in the recent student protests against the government. Most Thais are afraid that young people will be slaughtered once again like too many times in the past.

Most Thais stand with young students. They are the voice, breath, strength, and hidden hope of their parents and grandparents. What they heard behind domestic walls is now being shouted in the open.

For some analysts, two countries are facing off: the old and the young. But I think there is only one Thailand, where old and young have the same desire for freedom, power sharing and justice.

Yet a small clique has ruled for years, the very rich and powerful who do not want to listen to young students, the voice of the people.

A taxi driver told me the other day that these few powerful people consider the country their property; they have no notion of what is good for the people and are only pursuing their own interests in order to stay in power.

The students are calling for the government to be dissolved, new democratic elections held, a reform of the constitution that empowers the people, and that all institutions, including the monarchy, be under the authority of elected officials.

They also demand that dissidents no longer be persecuted or killed, as in the recent past. this would strip the crown and the military of their absolute power.

Although such a change seems impossible to achieve right now, people of good judgement believe that the time has come to transform Thailand along more democratic lines.

I pray that God will give wisdom and discernment to the authorities so that they will listen to the people speaking through the youth, and that they will engage in dialogue not only with the protesters, but also with the representatives of the people, the elders of the beloved youth.

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