For most of us, seeing men in military uniforms standing on every corner and tanks at attention at every intersection would be cause for serious upheaval. We wouldn’t accept it because we have become so accustomed to our freedom that taking it away isn’t even a question. We wouldn’t allow it. But that’s just what has been happening in Thailand.
They have had their military stage a coup multiple times, taking over the government and running everything. This time, though, it has become indefinite.
The most recent protest against this sparked from the movie “Mockingjay, Part 1.” Young adults have been holding up the three-finger salute seen in the “Hunger Games” trilogy with their other hand over their mouth. Because of this, Thailand has banned any screenings of the movie, as well as all political protests.
The junta, the military-led government, made the salute illegal soon afterwards. Several students have already been arrested for using the three-finger salute, and two more were arrested for trying to have their own screening of the banned movie.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup in May, expressed his unhappiness about having to take over. Chan-ocha claims to be doing this because he doesn’t want these students to put their futures at risk. But that sounds like he is just trying to smother any real protest before it gains momentum and crush the idea of a future one. He says he does not plan for this to be permanent, but yes, this ‘necessary’ military takeover is indefinite.
The military had promised to restore democracy in late 2015, but there have been voiced concerns about it consolidating power in the meantime. That sounds kind of permanent to me.
So far, those arrested because of the salute have been held overnight, forced to sign a document claiming they will never participate in a political protest again and have been released free of charges.
Any gathering of five or more people has been banned since May, which is honestly ridiculous. The military claims to be helping, but all they have been doing is censoring and repressing the citizens of Thailand.
This type of complete control is only getting worse, and Thailand is only the newest of what has been happening.
Chinese officials have had their hands full with the protests in Hong Kong, which have been named the Umbrella Movement for their use of umbrellas to protect against canisters of tear gas.
Another hand sign has been made popular by this protest: Holding up both arms in an ‘X’ over your head to signal dissatisfaction and mistrust toward the central Chinese government.
Over 100,000 students staged a civil protest for democracy in their government, effectively shutting down several shops and official government offices for a day until the police decided they would tolerate no more and hundreds were sent in with batons and pepper spray.
Forty arrests have been made, and while some in the crown instigated chaos and hostility, the majority of the crowd protested peacefully, wearing hardhats, goggles and surgical masks, chanting “I want true democracy.”
Officials have made little effort to address or compromise with protestors, some of which have started a hunger strike as well. This isn’t just across the globe from us, though. This is happening right in Ferguson, Missouri.
Tear gas and pepper spray, along with unnecessary military force, were sent to Ferguson after Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown. Media was forced out of Ferguson, and all accounts varied, depending on where you read your information.
Several things are quite clear, however. Their hand sign has been both hands, palms forward, level with their shoulders, with the phrase “Hands up, don’t shoot” following it.
This large and eventually unruly riot was the result of an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot, his body left in the street for a few hours.
Civilians were tear-gassed and pepper sprayed, as well as shot with rubber bullets. It took months for the officer who shot the teen to appear in court, and he was let off without so much as a slap on the wrist.
These events are only part of a growing trend. This time of change and rebellion is far from over. Something needs to change all over the world. The way things have been done for generations isn’t working anymore, and it’s the upcoming generation that is realizing it and is going to change it. Students are protesting — we are opening our eyes to what has been going on under the table. Hopefully, we’ve caught it before it can ruin our future.
Email Amanda Little at firstname.lastname@example.org.