Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, a 21-year-old girl is now the face of the pro-democracy protest in Thailand. She did something that Thai people never imagined for decades, challenging the monarchy.
She read out the 10-point manifesto amid the cheering of the students, BBC Reported. She is driving the movement to reform monarchy. Thais are born to revere the royals, and many find it difficult to digest.
Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that has lese majestic law. Anyone who criticizes the royals can be jailed for 15 years.
She claims that everyone has red blood, no one is born with blue blood. She asserts that some may have born in a fortunate condition, but none is noble by birth.
She has faced constant attacks from royal media and loyalists. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul and people like her called ‘Chung Chart’ in Thailand, simply means ‘hatred for the nation’. In a more convenient way, they are called ‘Anti-Nationals’ for demanding the end of monarchs.
Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul is part of the Dome Revolution, a student union political party. She was again leading from the front after the Future Forward Party was faced dissolution. The party immensely popular with the youth and pro-reform was disbanded in a controversial court ruling. The supporters said that it was a way to curb the pro-reformist political influence.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn hardly stays in the country. The Monarch family is also faced with corruption charges.
The Thai government has refused to meet the demand of the students. It said that they respect freedom of expression and tolerate other views. However, the students must ensure they remain within the rights and framework of the law.
The protestors do not want the Monarchs to interfere in national politics.
Panusaya does fear for her life. Many activists before have gone missing and their bodies are later found. The student leaders say that her life can never be the same again. She is being constantly monitored by the authorities.
However, the struggle has just begun. As they say, freedom never comes for free.