Protest organisers have been silenced for Tuesday’s anniversary of the Thammasat University Massacre

The 44th anniversary of the 1976 Thammasat University massacre on October 6 will be commemorated by the university. But 3 prominent organisers of the latest round of student protests, attracting up to 30,000 people, will be denied an opportunity to speak at the event.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, and human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, will not be permitted to address the audience during the university’s forum which marks the 44th anniversary of the seminal incident in Thai political history.

Krisadang Nutcharus, an organising committee member for this year’s annual commemoration made the announcement on his Facebook page yesterday.

“The leaders, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, and lawyer Arnon Nampa are not permitted to speak at this year’s forum.”

Thammasat university officials offered no further explanation, simply responding by saying they “felt uncomfortable with the presence of the 3 pro-democracy leaders at the forum”.

Recent student protests, peppered with opposition MPs and other Thais wanting to vent their anger at the current government, have turned up in large numbers at rallies since July. Their demands, made abundantly clear in a 10 point manifesto, not only include an overhaul to the current government and Constitution, but also have stepped over a cultural grey line and called for reform of the country’s Monarchy and royal institutions.

The events of October 6, 1976 are still a raw issue in Thailand, over 40 years later.

Last year’s 43rd anniversary of the killing of students by police and ultranationalist forces – which has become known as the Thammasat University Massacre – was commemorated quietly as relatives and others gathered at the Thammasat University site in Bangkok. The political environment, only 6 months after the general election, was very different to the current frisson of Thailand’s students. Last year the University made this statement on the anniversary.

“October 6, 1976, is a date that still haunts the government and people of Thailand. State forces massacred scores of student activists on this day, on the lawns of Thammasat University in Bangkok.

The campus had been occupied by leftist student demonstrators who opposed the return to Thailand of a former dictator. The military and arch royalists accused them of being “antimonarchical communists”, and the military, police and right-wing paramilitary forces had the university surrounded.”

The Thammasat University massacre was a violent crackdown by Thai police and lynching by right-wing paramilitaries and bystanders against leftist protesters who had occupied Bangkok’s Thammasat University Tha Prachan Campus and the adjacent Sanam Luang, on October 6, 1976. Before the massacre, 1000s of students, Thai workers and other “leftists” had been holding ongoing demonstrations against the return of former dictator Thanom Kittikachorn to Thailand since the middle of September that year. Officially, 46 were killed and 167 were wounded. Unofficial reports state that more than 100 demonstrators were killed.

Meanwhile, the Free Youth group, 1 of 3 key groups who have been organising the recent spate of protests, has announced it will hold its next rally on October 14 at Democracy Monument. The last rally there in August attracted 10,000+ people to the rally. The UFTD, the groups which has added reform to the monarchy in its demands, is expected to take part in the rally.

Despite the numerous rallies and calls for bold reform, the government is doing nothing to address any of the key points brought up by the students, beyond mulling a committee for constitutional reform, which it has now postponed anyway. Meanwhile, the largest rump of anti-government opposition, the Pheu Thai Party, has recently overhauled its executive, steering them away from previous tacit support for the student’s demands from the former executive.

The party has also been ‘rocked’ by the reappearance of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s former wife, who has taken a low-key role in the party’s activities in recent times, having an audience with His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen 11 days ago at the Dusit Palace. It has been speculated that she will have an undisclosed role in the Pheu Thai party’s new executive.

Bangkok NewsThailand Protest News
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply