Thailand and Human’s Right Violation: 4 Things Everyone Should Know
Since the onset of 2021, Thailand has faced a serious right crisis, and the people of the Land of Smiles are no longer smiling. The prime minister of Thailand imposed a set of restrictions on political and civil rights, which encompass their freedom of oppression, the arbitrary arrest of democracy activists, and the dissolution of the major opposition political party on politically motivated grounds.
As a half Thai, half Indian queer American who lives in Manhattan, I can feel for my people and my maternal family who still live in Thailand. Thailand has some major human rights violations that it needs to address. The Covid-19 pandemic was used as a reason for the infringement of human rights, and we need to talk about this.
Youth-led democracy protests
As a Gen Z, I can tell you that most people of my generation aren’t afraid to use our voices to speak against injustices, and this is where the Youth-led democracy protests come from. These protests started in universities and schools across the country, and it was after the dissolution of the opposition party, Future Forward Party, back in February 2020.
The second round of protests rose when the country was trying to control the spread of the pandemic. The Free Youth Movement protested in Bangkok on the 18th of July 2020. They called for the dissolution of parliament and the draft of a new constitution that treats and punishes people equally.
You should know that the current Thai government has not so subtlety harassed and intimidated people from exercising their right to freedom of speech. This protest continued to grow and had an average of tens of thousands of protesters per demonstration. They also demand the reform of the Thai monarch system.
Other demands that we made were more freedom on school grounds and classrooms. Gender and marriage equality by queer people, end of military control on the southern border, fair labor compensation during the pandemic, better employment condition, and accountability for state-sponsored rights violations.
Thai show you can watch to get a glimpse of the reality
If you want to watch a show about how the system is working against and not for the people, I recommend watching Not Me. This Thai BL (boys love) drama shows how Thailand is inherently flawed and that’s the system in place only favors a few, and they are the ones at the top of the social hierarchy. Here is one of the most powerful quotes/poem from the show:
“I carry hawkers, Selling things to other
I’m Poor; I endure the hustle
Never hustling my wife and kids
I never got used to being enslaved by the bill
Grit my teeth and keep on saving money
While the ruling class still reign over the country
I have a voice but hold no right
I have ideas, but they are constrained
They say I’m a serf, a farmer, a laborer
They say I’m leeching off the country
A slave to politicians
I’m a f* pawn in the power game
Be whatever they desire
Anything but human
Human worthiness is worthless while we’re standing still
Branded a working animal, but we’re still human
Degraded, humiliated, but we’re still human
Made to grovel, to be trampled on, but then…
Because I’m afraid so I raise the question
Because I’m enraged, so I raise the question
Because I’m oppressed, so I raise the question
Because I’m dispossessed, so I raise the question.”
The quote is, of course, in Thai, and it has more resonance in the original language, but the English subtitle is just powerful. It shows the sad reality of what Thai people are living through. So, watch this series, be enraged and let’s make a change together.
In 2015, Thailand enacted the Gender Equality Act, and the implementation of this now more than 7-year-old law is still problematic. If the Gender Equality Act is really passed, it could be a major step for queer people in Thailand. It will fundamentally recognize same-sex couples and provide them with the same legal protection as their straight counterparts.
Thailand is really open about queer people, and it is the place to go for cheap trans surgery; the country is known for its famous and booming BL industry, but they still have major steps to cover to treat queer people as equal to their straight counterparts. Even though Thailand is a queer-friendly country, it still has ways to go.
The current draft of the Gender Equality Bill still needs improvement, and in my opinion, at this point, it is just a rough draft. On top of that, domestic violence is another prevailing issue in the Land of Smiles, and despite the 2019 Family Institution Protection Act, there are still issues that need to be dealt with.
Criminal action against the perpetrators of domestic abuse is still vastly unpunished in the country. Someone who raped another person can receive a 3-year sentence, but someone fighting for their basic human rights can land themselves a life sentence. This is when we need to ask ourselves the right question of what is right or wrong. I know where I stand on this but do you?
Torture and Enforced disappearance
Torture is a major problem currently in Thailand, but under the Thai penal code, torture is not recognized as a criminal offense. Although Thailand signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2012, they have not ratified the treaty yet. The Thai penal code also doesn’t recognize enforced disappearance as a criminal offense, and this is where the issue arises.
Between 1980 and 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Enforcement or Involuntary Disappearance has recorded 82 enforced disappearances, but this number can be much higher. To no one’s surprise at this point, Thai authorities often tend to engage in practices that facilitate enforced disappearance and torture.
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