Opinion: The oppressors may have batons and tear gas but we have our youth and our songs and the idea of freedom

No one expected the movement to escalate so quickly. Looking back just one or two years ago, the student’s protest movement has seemingly come out of nowhere and has become a significant force in Thai politics.

But they continue to insult us, look down at us, and say that we have no real demands, no real grievances. At every turn, they say we would not get the numbers, that it was just an online protest, that there were only a dozen people out on the streets.

But time and time again, we have answered each criticism, our numbers have grown and now we stand before you today not just students and the youth but a growing movement comprised of every sector of society.

While we still have more work to do, we are no longer underestimated.

Solidarity

While Thai politics may be unique in certain aspects, there is a solidarity that is shared with the young people protesting today with the other young people all around the world.

We exchange our opinions with them online, we talk to them, we share and discuss our common problems. Our friends in Hong Kong and their fight against living under a totalitarian state echoes closely to our struggle here at home. The Black Lives Movement in the United States is unique but the struggle against oppression is universal. Even Greta Thunberg’s fight for climate change is something that we have admired and lauded as she pisses off the ‘grown-ups’ from one continent to the next.

While each fight is unique and must be carried out by the people in their own localities, there is a need to express solidarity, to offer each other comfort through the long night of oppression until we all experience the same dawn of freedom.

We are united in our solidarity and our friendship from Thailand to Taiwan to the Philippines and the rest of the world.

Just beginning

While we have achieved some impressive numbers over the past few weeks, make no mistake that this movement is just the beginning. It will continue until we are all arrested or we end the oppression. Our fight will not be easy, the forces of tyranny have guns, tear gas, batons and laws created out of thin air and meant to oppress.

Already, we see signs that the government is worried. Arresting a protest leader and a human rights lawyer is the sign of a desperate government. It also shows the tools the state has at its disposal to try and stop a bunch of kids with signs and songs. But our signs and songs secured the bail of the lawyer and the protest leader. Our signs and our songs and our youth are what has the government worried.

We will not fight back with violence, ours is a movement of peace. Let us see if the government will use violence against people who are peacefully calling for change. Let us show the world how to fight against tyranny.

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