#YouthSpeakDemocracy: Jib, Youth Activist Determined to Get the Military Out of Politics
For the past two weeks, we have been bringing you exclusive interviews with brave youth activists fighting for human rights in Thailand, under our “Youth Speak Democracy” series. With the aim of amplifying youth voices, this series has seen some dedicated, informed, and ambitious young activists demanding democratic reforms. Their wishes for a better future are here to stay and be heard.
You have already met Bung and Get in our previous interviews. They both gave impactful insights into the major deficiencies within the Thai political landscape, including government abuses and the need for a monarchy reform. Now, three days ahead of the elections, we want to bring you a third exclusive interview with an incredible youth activist: Kanyakorn “Jib” Suntornprug from the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration. Speaking of the activist group’s intentions to strengthen Thailand’s democracy, she underlines the urgency to limit the military’s influence over politics, including through the enactment of a new constitution.
One issue Jib and the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration are paying particular attention to is:
“We are working on eradicating military intervention in politics. Every time there is a coup, our constitution is repealed.
“What’s more, conglomerates hold power over the people by limiting their economic freedom. An example is the regulation related to the production of beer in Thailand, which allows huge companies and monopolies to secure their profits while preventing small businesses, that cannot meet the required production volumes, from entering the beer market.”
When speaking about stopping military intervention in politics, Jib detailed how the coup already stunted progress in Thailand:
“We believe the coup d’etat is the most pressing issue. It is the type of political intervention that has been approved by the monarchy, and it does not negatively affect politics alone.
“Thailand has suffered from this problem for almost 90 years or since the Siamese revolution in 1932. We feel that Thailand’s democracy has been hindered by the coups for long enough. Thailand has the potential to go farther, and that is why this election is incredibly important. It is the way for us to put an end to this vicious cycle.”
Jib also talked to us about how military interventions in politics affect her as a young person:
“Political interventions by the military seriously limit freedom of speech when it comes to politics. Because the military government is a dictatorship, they are empowered to enforce absurd laws, exploit the existing laws to their advantage, or suppress criticism.”
"We should be allowed to denounce abnormalities in our society. Since the authoritarian government does need to listen to its people, it can freely abuse the laws to silence any opinions about them."
Asked about policies that the new government should prioritize, Jib, similar to thousands of Thai youths, demands a new constitution that truly guarantees equality and freedom:
“Constitutional amendment should be at the top of the list for the next government. This constitution is a direct result of political interventions, not the will of the people.”
“The next step that must go hand in hand with constitutional amendments is to get the military out of politics. Most political interventions are brought on by the military, and for this reason, we have to nip the problem in the bud and curb the role of the military in politics. We propose, for example, that military officers must leave their positions for a period of time before getting involved in politics. This will likely encourage separation of powers between the military and the government. “
“Our constitutions have been repealed too often, which should not be the case for a country’s supreme law. Thailand must put in place a solid constitution and turn off the switch for the military’s political influence.”
Jib has a message for the next government:
“My hope is for the next government to safeguard people’s basic rights and be open to the people’s criticism. Don’t weaponize legal charges to censor us like the military government is currently doing. It’s also your responsibility to protect the rights of future generations.”
While you’re here…
Read what Netiporn "Bung" Sanesangkhom from Thaluwang group, a youth activist with an unwavering commitment to reform Thailand’s monarchy, said in an exclusive interview with Manushya 👉🏻https://bit.ly/3VC20zY
Read what Sophon “Get” Suraritthamrong from Mokeluang Rimnam activist group, a youth democracy activist devoted to promoting freedom of speech and bringing about people’s constitution, said in an exclusive interview with Manushya 👉🏻https://bit.ly/41fj5AM
We’d also like to give you an insight into our previous work on supporting democracy, combating dictatorship, fighting for corporate accountability and climate justice, and powering women leaders, creating a safer, inclusive space online and offline for everyone:
➡️ We developed ‘Everything You Need to Know about #WhatsHappeningInThailand’ report, together with more than 50 rights groups, in preparation for Thailand’s third UPR. It contains a comprehensive overview of the most challenging human rights issues in the country and our recommendations for a better Thailand.
➡️ You can also watch our Youtube playlist #WhatsHappeningInThailand specific to the Pro-democracy protests.
➡️ To inform Thailand’s CERD review and make sure that concerns of grassroots communities are addressed, we prepared the Joint CERD Shadow Report ‘Thailand is a Paradise But only for the 1%’, highlighting the most important issues of racial discrimination in the country.
➡️ In collaboration with feminist and women’s rights groups, we developed the Joint Civil Society CEDAW Report, which addresses the struggles of all women. This is part of our commitment to advance the values of feminism in intersectional contexts and powering women leaders to be at the center of Thailand’s human rights narrative and lead the human rights movement!
➡️ You can also watch our Youtube playlist specific to Digital Rights & Online Freedom, including our Webinars part of the ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship, our #RightsCon sessions and more!
➡️ We also developed a Joint Submission on ‘Digital Rights in Thailand’ for Thailand’s III UPR, and the ‘UPR Advocacy Factsheet on Digital Rights in Thailand,’ bringing to light Thailand’s abuse of laws aimed at eliminating citizens’ basic human rights online.
➡️ We launched a campaign to #StopDigitalDictatorship in Southeast Asia to fight against rising digital dictatorship in the region.
➡️ To document Thailand’s treatment of LGBTIQ+ people and support them, we developed a Joint Submission on SOGIESC rights, and one on LGBTIQ+ youth and children, for Thailand’s III UPR. We also prepared a UPR Advocacy Factsheet on the situation of LGBTIQ+ persons.
➡️ We push back against corporate capture and support communities in their fight against corrupt practices and abuse that puts profit over people and the planet.
➡️ #JusticeForPhichit: We support villagers in Phichit and Phetchabun who have been severely affected by the operations of a gold mining company. Those who pushed back against the company face judicial harassment and SLAPP charges and, as part of our work to seek justice for them, we will keep up the fight to make sure their rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
➡️ #SaveSabWaiVillagers: We seek justice for the Sab Wai villagers who are victims of Thailand’s false climate solution criminalizing guardians of the forest! They have been unfairly convicted of trespassing, utilizing, and clearing land in Sai Thong National Park. We advocated for them not to be jailed, and we’re now supporting their resistance against cruel land evictions.
➡️ We created the #WeAreJustTransition Movement to speak with one unified voice and amplify our concerns together with local communities affected by climate change, greenwashing policies, and criminalized under Thailand's false climate solutions.
#ThailandElection2023 #เลือกตั้ง66 #WhatsHappeningInThailand #Abolish112 #MonarchyReform #WealthInequality #StopDigitalDictatorship #ยกเลิก112 #ปฏิรูปสถาบันกษัตริย์ #ปฏิรูปไม่เท่ากับล้มล่าง #SaveThaiDemocracy #DemocracyNow #MilkTeaAlliance #พรบคอม #ทะลุวัง #Y