Young 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, and the younger generation is playing an increasingly decisive role with creative and innovative forms of democratic engagement. By examining the role of youth in democracy and human rights 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


Rejecting a career in law, Ying now empowers communities fighting polluting mines

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Nalutporn Krairiksh: the journalist challenging Thai society to see people with disabilities as equally human


Natthapan Saengtab: Leading the fight for land rights in Southern Thailand


Seeking Justice: How Yureesa Sama builds peace through dialogue in the Deep South


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


Defending the forests she calls home: Duang’s struggle against a coal mine


Songseang Supanya: A rising voice of empowerment for the slums of Bangkok


Thailand’s Alisa Bintuna: Believing in the young generation’s power to change the world


Thai artist Tada Hengsapkul dredges up history the government wants hidden


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

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


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?

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The rise and dynamics of the 2020 youth movement in Thailand


Young advocates for democracy are campaigning against the surveillance state and the internet "gateway" to control inappropriate websites and the flow of information from the rest of the world to Thailand. The election win of the Future Forward Party (FFP) shows how Thailand's active young generation is moving from the Internet to the ballot box.

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The dynamic of youth activism in Afghanistan: A journey between hope and desperation


This e-paper is written based on interviews conducted with young activists, journalists, human rights defenders and academics from Afghanistan (all under the age of 35), who have been actively involved in the process of democratisation and committed to liberal values over the past 20 years in Afghanistan; it highlights the twenty years of achievements by Afghan youth and explores their hurdles and challenges under the rule of the Taliban’s de facto regime.