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The Rise of Pro-Democracy Monks: Joining the Fight for Freedom and Justice in Thailand

Monks are joining students in the pro-democracy protests! Read to see what their demands are and the risks they face for protesting against the Sangha's monarchy and for real democracy in Thailand.

"We're not supposed to give interviews or talk about politics, but we want them [the protesters] to achieve success. Democracy is a good thing." Those are the words of a monk who took part in the pro-democracy protest of 8 November, where he joined youth and students in their fight for freedom and democracy, although monks are not supposed to get involved in politics and can't vote.

But sex, drug, and corruption scandals within Thailand’s Buddhist monkhood became public in the last decade and have pushed monks to call for reform within the Sangha (Buddhist clergy). Their demands are similar to the ones of the pro-democracy students and youth: they want justice, equality and democracy, and no more corruption. They want to be able to speak up and voice their opinions. They also want more freedom: they want to determine their own lives and future and they don’t want the top position in the Sangha to be appointed by the monarchy.

Just like students and youth pro-democracy protesters, monks risk their lives when voicing their concerns: Buddhist monk Phra Panya Seesun was forced to flee Thailand after he denounced the country’s corrupted monkhood system and lack of freedom over Facebook posts, Facebook Watch Lives, and speeches at Thai universities. He’s now so scared for his life that he spends his time inside a small apartment in a foreign city.

Manushya Foundation calls on the government to stop harassing peaceful protesters who just want a real democracy with a fair justice system and respect for freedom. We stand in solidarity with all the monks who find the courage to go against their hierarchy and take risks to speak up against a corrupted system. They have the same human rights as everyone else to stand up against dictatorship and demand critical reforms!

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Founded in 2017, Manushya Foundation serves as a bridge to engage, mobilise, and empower agents of change by: connecting humans through inclusive coalition building and; by developing strategies focused at placing local communities’ voices in the centre of human rights advocacy and domestic implementation of international human rights obligations and standards.


Manushya Foundation strengthens the solidarity and capacity of communities and grassroots to ensure they can constructively raise their own concerns and provide solutions in order to improve their livelihoods and the human rights situation on the ground.

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