Practising on an illustration of the prime minister’s face, Thai skateboarders are showing support for a growing pro-democracy movement in Bangkok with defiant new designs.
Rize-Style Skateboard owner Treewit “Chain” Boonkaweesilpn and a group of his friends from a small town outside the capital descended on the latest mass demonstration against Thailand’s military-backed government carrying skateboards covered with graphics of hands smashing through a pile of tanks.
Hashtag and Hunger Games
A flashy typescript calls for an end to “dictatorship” while popular hashtag #SaveThaiDemocracy sits on the nose of the deck, highlighting the important role social media, especially Twitter, has played in protests that have rattled the government since July.
They also feature the three-finger salute from “The Hunger Games” movies, a symbol of resistance in Thailand since prime minister Prayut Chan-O-cha led a coup in 2014 and held onto power in flawed elections last year.
“Skating is our art, it’s how we express our views on things like politics and how we practice our freedom of expression,” said Chain in an interview with VICE.
“Skateboarding is performance art. If something like gymnastics expresses beauty, then skateboarding is all about bravery; And bravery is important to political expression – it’s what we need to fight against the fear that has been created in our minds by the elites,” he said.
The new protest movement began with a group called Free Youth, whose demands called for the dissolution of parliament, the drafting of a new constitution and an end to the state harassment of Thai citizens. But the scope soon spread to include a range of societal issues, including LGBT rights, education and the once-taboo topic of the monarchy, which is legally shielded from criticism by royal defamation laws.
Original article by Vice Magazine