In our struggle for democracy in this country, those who struggle have always been plagued with difficulties. Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the American revolution, equated Tyranny with hell that is not “easily conquered.”
Still, he proclaimed that “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” This particular phrase has struck me. The same has never been truer for our country, considering what we have been through for almost eight years in the hellish and twisted land that we call home.
As our fight rages on, our democracy has taken hit after hit, our liberty has also been taken away again and again. There have been moments for all of us on the front line of protests, where we have questioned whether the fight is worth it, whether our actions will result in something tangible.
There are times when the road we have chosen to take has in return taken an emotional toll. Despair, anxiety, fear, these are the emotions that have accompanied many of us on this march to liberty. This is true especially with my more well-known colleagues, who have to endure the threat of endless prosecutions, even of death. In spite of all this, many of us have sacrificed our personal needs and gains for ideals: the wish to be and see the country free.
The rate of prosecutions has increased significantly since the beginning of 2021. The nature of these prosecutions no longer takes place in the backroom, hidden away from the public eye. Instead, the prosecution, arrests, and abuse have taken place almost daily in broad daylight. The brazen aggression the conservative establishment has taken is a clear signal that they will no longer negotiate nor tolerate the existence of the larger pro-Democracy movement.
Yet, I take my heart in my colleagues and friends who have forged on despite the aggression from the state in the pursuit of liberty. They believe that they can liberate Thailand from the cynicism of the past, from the barbarity of those who proclaimed themselves patriots, from those who are more than willing to commit another massacre to preserve the status quo. Make no mistake, my friends and colleagues have signalled many times that they would sacrifice their personal liberty, or even more, to ensure that liberty is had for all.
I have given myself tirelessly for the last year, committed to the fight for the values and ideals that the majority of Thai people hold dear. I almost gave up my freedom for the first time in my life when the authorities arrested me for crimes that I did not do.
It is my wish that I could have done more to contribute. Still, I believe that my talents will be well-served elsewhere rather than on the frontlines. From phone calls to encouragement to emotional support, I have nothing but love and respect towards my colleagues. But moving forward, I will focus myself, once again, on building a more perfect Student Union for the University where I am a student.
The thing is, after all I have seen so far, from where we began until now, I believe that we can do more, all of us can do more. No matter how small, or little, it is prudent to at least do our part for the greater good.
The future we are going to shape in the next days, months, or years, will require us all to take part in it. We can do our part to shape history, our country, and the democracy we want to see.
Pro-democracy activist Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong is accused by the state of infringing on the liberty of Thailand’s Queen Suthida during a protest which nearly obstructed a royal motorcade, in Bangkok on October 16, 2020. He faces the possibility of life in prison.