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Chonthicha Jangrew: From Activist to Lawmaker, A Fight for Democracy in Thailand’s Courts

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The journey of Chonthicha Jangrew from an impassioned activist to a distinguished member of the House of Representatives is nothing short of captivating. With a fire ignited in her heart post the 2014 coup, Chonthicha has been on an unwavering mission to advocate for democratic freedoms, a quest that recently found her in the spotlight of global recognition. The Move Forward Party MP’s story is a testament to the power of resilience, belief, and the relentless pursuit of change.

Monday is poised to be a pivotal day for Chonthicha as she steps into the Thanyaburi Provincial Court, awaiting a crucial ruling in a lese-majeste case that has captivated national and international observers alike. This court appearance comes on the heels of an immense honor: being named one of the 2024 Next Generation Leaders by Time magazine, a title that celebrates her unyielding commitment to social and political reform.

Chonthicha’s legal battle stems from charges of royal defamation under the formidable Section 112 of the Criminal Code, linked to comments made during a heartfelt rally in September 2021. Her voice that day was one among many, calling for justice and transparency, yet it has singled her out for scrutiny under laws that have sparked widespread debate on freedom of expression.

The path to political advocacy was not one Chonthicha had envisioned from the start. Her activism was born in the aftermath of the 2014 military coup, a pivotal moment that saw her and other students take a stand against the erosion of democratic freedoms. It was an event organized to commemorate the coup’s first anniversary that led to her arrest and detention, a harrowing experience that would only strengthen her resolve.

In a candid revelation to Time magazine, Chonthicha shared, “I never thought of being a politician at all. But I realized one thing: if we want to make a sound, we cannot only make change on the street. We also need to get into power, and use this power to make a change — to build a society that we want to see.” This insight has fueled her political journey, propelling her into the halls of power where she now strives to forge a brighter future for her nation.

However, Chonthicha’s path is one fraught with challenges. She stands alongside two other courageous MPs from the main opposition party, entangled in the complexities of royal defamation charges. The stakes are high, and the sentences severe, as demonstrated by Bangkok MP Rukchanok Srinork’s recent sentence — a stark reminder of the risks involved in their fight for freedom and democracy.

The backdrop to these legal battles is a country in turmoil, with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights documenting a staggering number of individuals prosecuted for their political beliefs and actions since the Free Youth protests ignited in July 2020. Among them, scores face charges under the same laws that now threaten to silence Chonthicha and her colleagues, highlighting a critical crossroads for freedom of speech and political expression in Thailand.

Despite the clouds of adversity, Chonthicha Jangrew’s story remains an inspiring beacon of hope. It’s a narrative of an individual who dared to dream, to speak out, and to step into the arena of political change, driven by an unwavering belief in the power of collective action and democratic principles. As the world watches on Monday, her journey underscores the enduring human spirit’s capacity to challenge the status quo and envision a realm of possibilities for a just and equitable society.


  1. Samantha May 26, 2024

    It’s stories like Chonthicha Jangrew’s that remind us change is possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Her transition from activist to lawmaker shows the power of resilience and belief in one’s cause.

    • Alex96 May 26, 2024

      Change is a slow process, especially in politics. It’s inspiring, yes, but how effective can one person really be in a system that’s stacked against them?

      • Samantha May 26, 2024

        It’s about setting the stage for future generations. Every big movement started with a single or a few individuals daring to stand up. Chonthicha’s presence in the House of Representatives itself is a powerful statement.

    • RealTalk May 26, 2024

      Resilience and belief are important, but what about the risks? The lese-majeste laws make it incredibly dangerous to even attempt the kind of change she’s fighting for.

      • JJTrekker May 26, 2024

        Exactly! The potential sentences are terrifying. The courage of these activists is admirable, but the cost is astronomical. Is it worth it?

  2. Thomas May 26, 2024

    I’m skeptical about the efficacy of moving from activism to traditional politics. Doesn’t the system just corrupt or silence genuine reformers in the end?

    • Marie_C May 26, 2024

      Not always, Thomas. Political platforms can amplify voices for change in ways street protests can’t. It’s about using every tool available.

      • JPThoughts May 26, 2024

        But how many get silenced or give up because the system is too rigid or dangerous to navigate? Look at the Thai legal battles against activists. It’s a fine line to walk.

    • DemocracyNow May 26, 2024

      The key is not letting ourselves be silenced or discouraged. What Chonthicha is doing is incredibly brave and sets an example. It’s our job to support and amplify voices like hers.

      • Thomas May 26, 2024

        I agree it’s brave, but bravery doesn’t always lead to tangible changes. The structure of power in Thailand, and in many countries, is deeply entrenched. Breaking through requires more than just getting elected.

  3. GlobalWatcher May 26, 2024

    The international community should pay more attention to what’s happening in Thailand. It’s not just about national politics; it’s a test case for democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia.

    • SkepticalMind May 26, 2024

      Human rights get touted a lot, but superpowers only step in when there’s something in it for them. The geopolitics of Southeast Asia complicates things even further.

      • AsiaPacPol May 26, 2024

        That’s a cynical view, but not entirely wrong. The challenge is finding a balance between international pressure and respect for national sovereignty.

  4. LibertyFan May 26, 2024

    Charging someone for royal defamation is an archaic practice that has no place in a modern society. Freedom of speech should be absolute.

    • TraditionHolder May 26, 2024

      It’s not that simple. Every country has its cultural norms and legal frameworks that protect those norms. Thailand’s lese-majeste law is about preserving respect for the monarchy, which plays a central role in Thai society.

      • LawStudent01 May 26, 2024

        Respect should be earned, not enforced by law. Silencing critics doesn’t prove respect; it illustrates fear and control.

  5. PeaceAdvocate May 26, 2024

    What Chonthicha and others are doing is laying down the groundwork for peace and justice. Despite the personal risks, it’s crucial that the fight for democracy continues.

    • Cynic22 May 26, 2024

      Peace and justice are idealistic notions when the reality is governments and those in power do what they must to stay on top. The ‘fight for democracy’ is uphill and often seems hopeless.

      • PeoplesVoice May 26, 2024

        It’s that very cynicism that activists like Chonthicha are fighting against. Change comes from persistent effort and belief in the possibility of a better future.

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