DossierYoung voices on the rise

Youth & democracy in the Asia-Pacific region

In the Asia-Pacific region, the contest between democracy and autocracy has further escalated in recent years. The younger generation is playing an increasingly decisive role with creative and innovative forms of democratic protest, be it flash mobs, hashtag activism, savvy use of hand signals or developing homegrown signals shared through infographics on social media. Especially in the context of an ongoing worldwide pandemic, young people are pushing for alternative approaches and continue to gather on online platforms devoted to change and resistance. By examining the role of youth in pro-democracy movements from a wide range of perspectives, this dossier aims to amplify and spread knowledge about the political involvement of youth in their respective regions and, subsequently, to contribute to improve international support mechanisms for ‘Young Advocates For Democracy’ (YA4D).

Thai activists in the spotlight


Khairiyah Rahmanyah: The fisherfolk’s daughter who defends the ocean in Southern Thailand


Patchara Kumchumnan, passionate indigenous rights defender behind the #SaveBangKloi campaign


Thai artist Tada Hengsapkul dredges up history the government wants hidden

Written contributions


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Reawakening student activism: a case study of Malaysia and Singapore


Malaysia and Singapore share a history of suppression of youth activism by the state, and as a result, this has led to the depoliticisation of young people, who are often labelled as apathetic. However, the changing realities of both countries, ­such as the instability of the economy, has led young people to engage more in political discussions in recent years. However, the rise of youth activism also entails rising harassment and state suppression of youth activists through surveillance, arrests and threats to future employability. 

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In the wake of the coup: how Myanmar youth arose to fight for the nation


The Myanmar military coup, on 1 February 2021, devastated the country and the youth have played a leading role in protesting and resisting the military dictatorship. This paper explores Myanmar youth’s motivations for their resistance to the 1 February coup, their imaginations of post-revolution society, and their goals. The paper also attempts to evaluate the many challenges that youth activists are facing in post-coup Myanmar - a state that has again become severely repressive. Based on 34 individual interviews with youth activists involved in the peaceful anti-coup resistance movement in Myanmar, this paper asks: What are the conceptualisations, motivations and expectations held by youth activists participating in the peaceful 2021 anti-coup movement, and what challenges do they face?