Political protests are not a new action. Many people around the world regularly join different types of events to express their dissonance with the government. However, sometimes politicians are not ready to respond and the best way to solve the problem is to make people shut up. Young activists from Asia are not ready to give up so easily. They get treats and even kept in jail, but continue to share their voice. Here are 7 young activists that shake up politics in Asia.

 

Beniko Hashimoto, 26

 

Beniko came to a demonstration by herself. She just noticed that not many young people visit these types of events. So, she decided to change the situation. “I hadn’t had many opportunities to discuss politics, so it was fun to demonstrate with other people my age,” – she says. “ To be honest, I wasn’t always interested in politics. I kept up with the news, but it never occurred to me to join a demo.”

The starting point was the debate over collective self-defense. There Hashimoto was inspired to do more. The activist thinks a lot about war. “I know that some politicians have called us selfish. Well, if it’s selfish to oppose war, then, yes, I suppose I am selfish,” – Beniko claims.

 

Joshua Wong, 20

 

Joshua Wong’s first activism refers to 2011. His movement managed to defeat an effort to make China’s communist National Education curriculum mandatory in Hong Kong schools through the power of peaceful protest. It was Joshua’s first victory.

Wong can seem unremarkable – a gawky guy in oversized clothes from a lower-middle class background who nevertheless manages to rouse people with his energy and plain speaking. However, he’s really remarkable. In September 2014, an unprecedented wave of civil disobedience swept Hong Kong, with tens of thousands of people pouring on to the streets to call for democratic reforms.

The Face of Protest was teenager Joshua Wong. Joshua and others students stormed into the blocked-off government office and attracted attention not only walkers, but police too. This demonstration was named umbrella movement.

Two years later, Wong became co-founder Demosisto platform. The activist is studying politics. His life experience he describes in this way: “Sometimes it feels as if I major in activism and minor in university.”

 

Moeko Mizoi, 22

 

The first idea to become a political activist came to Moeko when she was at high school. Mizoi’s grandmother lives in Fukushima, so she remembers everything that was that day. When she tried to find a person to talk about at her school, it became an impossible task. None of her friends were into it. So, Moeko decided to participate in a protest to find adherents. There she understood that there are other young people who feel the same way she does.

“People who say we are selfish seem to think that citizens are there to be used by their country, including making them go to war. It should be the other way round – the nation is there for the benefit of the people”, – she shares. “I agree that, in general, young Japanese are indifferent to politics. When I think back to when I was at school, I had no friends with whom I could talk about politics, but later I spoke up and found that, actually, lots of people are worried about what’s happening with the security bills.”

 

Hikaru, 18

As Moeko, Hikaru got his first political awakening happened after the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima. “I talked about what had happened with my family. My older sister was already an anti-nuclear activist, so she took me along to a demonstration, – Hikaru says. “I met other people my age there, so I decided to get properly involved.”

When the activist first heard about the security bills, he was worried. “I felt it affected me … I kept thinking about what could happen if this really became law,” – he remembers. “People have called us naive, but does anyone really want Japan to go to war, even the people who support the security bills? It’s natural to want to avoid war, so I don’t think I’m being naive or selfish at all.”

Even Hikaru’s friends used to think he was a strange. However, the situation has changed soon.  “Some of them have been coming up to me at school and saying, “You’re doing a good thing.”

 

Erina Nakagawa, 21

The protest life for Errna started unexpectedly – on her birthday. She participated in a sit-down protest. “I’ve always been moved by John F Kennedy’s speech, the one in which he talks about not shrinking from our responsibility to defend freedom, – she says. “That way of thinking is reflected in the Japanese constitution. I can’t accept that one person can come along like some kind of king and declare it null and void.”

Now the political situation has changed. And Erina isn’t agree with it. “The point of politics is to promote the common good. So we’re the complete opposite of selfish in what we’re doing”, – the activist shares. “We’re defending our rights – it’s as simple as that.”

 

Amos Yee, 18

 

Amos Yee is blogger and YouTuber from Singapore. He was jailed a lot of times because of his posts about denigrating religion and the country’s late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew.

Thanks to pleading guilty to six charges of deliberately making social media posts that denigrated Christianity and Islam, the activist was sentenced to a six-week jail in the space of 12 months.

Amos has a great portfolio as arrested person. For instance, he was imprisoned for wounding religious feelings in an expletive-laden YouTube video comparing the late Lee to Jesu and for creating an obscene cartoon he had drawn featuring Lee and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

In an interview with Time magazine, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said freedom of expression in the affluent Southeast Asian city state came with limits: “In our society, which is multiracial and multi-religious, giving offence to another religious or ethnic group, race, language or religion, is always a very serious matter. In this case, he’s a [teenager], so you have to deal with it appropriately because he’s [young]” .

However, as it appears, Yee isn’t going to stop.

 

Takuya, 18

 

Takuya joined the anti-war group for teenagers because for the first time she felt it would have an impact on her life. “If this law goes through it will make it easier for Japan to go to war, for whatever reason – it could be economic, not just political, – Takuya explains. “That will affect not just me, but my school friends too.”

She was moves not only by this fear, but also by her father, who encouraged her to take part. “People have said that getting involved so publicly at my age could damage my job prospects, – Takuya shares.  “I honestly don’t think that when I’m job-hunting in a few years’ time that I’ll be asked about my political activism. If I am, I’ll be honest, and if I don’t get the job, then that probably isn’t the right company for me anyway.”

Takuya is not going to stop just on one issue. There are many things to worry about. Takuya is going to change them. “I’m not old enough to vote, so joining these protests is the only way I can make my feelings known.”

Subscribe to WM Daily. Be In Touch With Rebellious Voices