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

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Protest organisers have been silenced for Tuesday’s anniversary of the Thammasat University Massacre | The Thaiger
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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.

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Events

Thai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead

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Thai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead | The Thaiger

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is ordering an investigation into yesterday’s explosion of a gas pipeline in Samut Prakan, just south east of central Bangkok. At least 3 people were killed. Among the dead, 2 elderly women were killed, plus at least 28 confirmed injuries when the PTT gas pipeline exploded in the coastal Bang Bo district.

The prime minister has also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims stating that authorities would “get to the bottom of the incident”. The explosion was near the Soi Preng Wisuthathibdee School. Children were evacuated from the area immediately. The gas pipeline exploded during a gas transfer from Laem Chabang district to an industrial estate in Samut Prakan province.

Samut Prakan-based emergency responders arrived quickly on the scene with firetrucks and extinguishing foam.

Thai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead | News by The ThaigerThai PM orders investigation into Samut Prakan gas pipeline explosion, 3 dead | News by The Thaiger

PTT, the Thai petrochemical company announced yesterday around 2.30 pm that the fire was under control and the situation contained.

“It is initially believed that the explosion was caused by the leakage and diffusion of NGV liquefied natural gas in the pipeline.”

Officials from the PTT Emergency Control Centre have been assisting the injured and said they will “resolve the situation as quickly as possible”.

Authorities speculate that built up pressure in the pipelines were responsible for the blast. Investigators are now on sire to inspect the scene. There hasn’t been any announcement about the full extent of the damage caused by the explosion. Video below from INN News.

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Protests

Preparations for the emergency session of the Thai Parliament

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Preparations for the emergency session of the Thai Parliament | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Protesters display the 3 finger salute in the lead up to next Monday's emergency sessions of parliament - Associate Press

The Thai Parliament is getting ready for an extraordinary session called by the Lower House Speaker to debate the current impasse between the protester’s demands and the PM and government. The session will be held on Monday and Tuesday. But even before the emergency session begins, government and opposition parliamentarians cannot decide on the terms of the debate.

Parliament president and lower house speaker, veteran Chuan Leekpai, hosted a meeting yesterday in preparation for the “extraordinary joint session” which will run over 2 days. He says the session will debate “ways to defuse the ongoing political crisis”. The debates will involve both houses of parliament, constituting the elected MPs of the lower house and the hand-picked, unelected Senators of the upper house. The preparatory meeting included members of cabinet, government coalition parties, opposition and the upper house.

Outside of the unfinished Thai parliamentary building, police and security officials were preparing for expected return of protests and a large turnout for the next round of political rallies. The protesters have already made this Sunday night the deadline for the Thai PM to resign, having already decided to co-operate with the PM after his Wednesday night request for the protesters to “stand down’ pending parliamentary discussions.

It’s unlikely the PM will meet this deadline and will participate in the 2 day emergency session.

The 2-day special session is being held under Section 165 of the 2017 Thai constitution which states “the government can request a joint House-Senate sitting for a general debate”. The next scheduled session of parliament was November 1.

But even the terms of the motion for the emergency session is causing debate before the doors even open for the emergency session. Opposition parties are demanding that their be the opportunity for a substantive vote following the session so that some concrete progress can be made to diffuse the current political crisis.

“We may refuse to be involved in the debates unless there is an opportunity to vote on the motions.”

Sutin Klungsang, opposition whip from the Pheu Thai Party, says unless the topics covered actually address the protesters demands, there is little use in turning up to the sessions.

The Move Forward Party’s (including remnants of the disbanded Future Forward party) Chaithawat Tulathon, says there must be a motion which includes the protesters’ key demands… that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha resign, a new constitution be written and the role of the Tha monarchy be limited and codified.

“Parliament should serve as an example in discussing sensitive issues in an appropriate and mature manner.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Reuters | Nation Thailand

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Protests

Bangkok hostels offer free beds to struggling protesters

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Bangkok hostels offer free beds to struggling protesters | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A protester is happy to have a clean and safe place to rest between rallies - usnews.com

Some Bangkok hostels are opening their doors, and offering beds and accommodation to demonstrators, providing them free refuge, or at very low prices. Young protesters have travelled to Bangkok to be a part of the growing protest movement that is putting pressure on the PM and government to listen to, and accede, to their demands.

More information about their demands and the protest movement HERE.

The protesters have defied crackdowns and even a formal State of Emergency, declared to allow arrests and police intervention, to call for on Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign. The protest movement is also demanding reforms to the role of the Thai monarch, and want the revised role to be codified in a new constitution.

Some of the protesters, with no other options, have been sleeping in the city’s parks or simply sleeping on the street, determined to stay in the capital and continue the demonstrations with their peers. Many others are being accommodated by friends and families. Now some of the city’s empty hostels are offering to take them in to rest in between what has become almost daily protests (over the last 9 days).

One hostel owner said that they had almost no visitors staying with them over the last month and felt it was “their duty” to take in the young Thais and provide a clean, safe place for them to stay. Whilst asking not to be identified, he said that they have plenty of spare beds at the moment.

“This isn’t a political thing for us. We are all Thais and should help each other. These young people needed refuge and we are glad to help them”.

Now there’s a Twitter account, Mobmeeteenon (Translated: protesters have places to sleep), that links protesters to available rooms after the protest schedule ramped up in recent weeks and, for now, looks to continue, despite the Government calling an emergency session of Parliament next Monday and Tuesday.

The Twitter account is now offering more rooms than the number of protesters looking for refuge as Bangkok hospitality owners make space available.

Some protesters, speaking on the condition of anonymity, are saying that they’ve been living in the same place for more than a week now and call their temporary accommodation “home” whilst visiting Bangkok to take part in the protests.

Despite being “well funded” now, the protest movement doesn’t provide any money for the protesters. The protest movement is receiving donations from other Thai people and from overseas. Just last week some 4 million baht flooded in from K-Pop enthusiasts, and more is expected as their ‘idols’ are speaking out in support of the current Thai protest movement.

“We’ve had a dribble of real travellers over the past 3 months so it’s nice to see our beds being used again. They are all helping each other and want to see this through to the end.”

Some 500 people have been hosted in Bangkok hostels since the effort to provide rooms started.

On Wednesday night the Thai PM addressed the nation on TV and promised to revoke the State of Emergency in return for the protesters “standing down”. His conciliatory tone was matched by an official rescinding of the emergency decree yesterday morning.

Protesters, for their part, have called off further protest action until Sunday night. They say they expect the resignation of the PM “by Sunday night” or they will continue their protests again. The Thai Parliament has been called for an emergency session to discuss the protester demands and the current impasse next Monday and Tuesday.

SOURCE: Reuters | bookings.com

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