Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thammasat Massacre in Thailand 1976

Political tensions between leftist and rightist forces reached a bloody climax in October 1976. On October 5, right-wing newspapers in the capital published a photograph of student demonstrators at Thammasat University reenacting the strangling and hanging of two student protestors by police the previous month. The photograph, which was later found to have been altered, showed one of the students as being made up to resemble the king's son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

The right wing perceived the demonstration as a damning act of lèse-majeste. That evening police surrounded the campus of Thammasat University, where 2,000 students were holding a sit-in. Fighting between students and police (including contingents of the paramilitary Border Patrol Police) broke out. The following day, groups of Nawa Phon, Red Gaurs, and Village Scouts "shock troops" surged onto the campus and launched a bloody assault in which hundreds of students were killed and wounded and more than 1,000 arrested. That evening the military seized power, established the National Administrative Reform Council (NARC), and ended that phase of Thailand's intermittent experimentation with democracy.

On the dawn of 6 October 1976, the rightists began firing into the University campus with pistols, automatic rifles and grenade launchers. Although the students pleaded for a ceasefire, police chief authorized a free firing followed by paramilitary groups storming in. Students who surrendered were forced to lie on the ground and were beaten, some to death. Others were shot or hung and their bodies mutilated or set ablaze. Those attempted to escape by jumping into the Chao Phraya River were also shot. The barbarism lasted for several hours until the Border Patrol Police, Red Gaur, Navapol Gangsters, and the Village Scouts re-gathered at the Royal Turf Club and were dismissed.

Samak Sundaravej was awarded a position of a Minister of Interior in a military-backed civillian government. Whereas a large number of survived students and activists went into the jungle to join the Communist guerrilla fighters. These included a lot of at-present politicians, scholars and university lecturers e.g., Theerayuth Boonme, Jiranan Pitrpreecha, Seksan Prasertkul, Thongchai Winijakul, Sombat Thamrongtanyawong, Chingchai Mongkoltham, Adisorn Piangkes, Jaral Ditapichai, Weng Tojirakarn, Amorn Amornratananont, Jaturon Chaisaeng, Promin Lertsuriyadej, Poomtham Vechayachai, Surachai Sae-Dan, Prinya Thewanarumitkul, Terdpoom Jaidee.

Some students remained in the city but continued to be alliances of the underground movements e.g., Surapong Suebwonglee.

Peace deal between China and Thailand ended the support of the communist guerilla in Thailand. National reconciliation and amnesty by PM Gen. Prem Tinasulanonth brought a peaceful return of those students to Thai society whereby most of the bitter students could come to terms with the tragedy. Those who feel bitter with termination of Chinese support remain live on and preach on left-wing ideologies. Some like Promin Lertsuriyadej, Poomtham Vechayachaijoin Thaksin Shinawatra's business empire.

Many modern history textbooks in Thailand completely skip this event or include one-sided police reports from the time that claim student protesters had turned violent. Some play down the massacre as a 'misunderstanding' between the two sides while even the most accurate are fairly watered down versions of the event.

Thaksin Shinawatra, with his enormous wealth, can get the right combination of those brilliant old-time left-wing activists, old fashioned politicians and the extreme right-wing politicians to work for his empire. He appointed Samak Sundaravej in his late 70's, the supposed to be retired politician to lead PPP after the coup. It was a chance of a life time to be a Prime Minister for greedy Samak.

In the early months of his Prime Minister term, Samak Sundaravej, in an interview with a foreign mdia, shamelessly denied his involvment with October 6, 1976 Thammasat Massacre and said that there was only one died in that incidence. This Samak's interview challenged the conscience of those left-wing ideologists who lost their comrades in front of their eyes from the smear propaganda of the right-wing extremists.

Thaksin, the mastermind, is just very good at reliving all the parties to serve him. In this present day massacre, 32 years afterward, Samak Sundaravej the advocate, Salang Bunnak the marksman, the racketeers, the leftists such as Surachai Sae-Dan, Thongchai Winijakul, Jaturon Chaisaeng, Weng Tojirakarn, Adisorn Piangkes conspired a betrayal one over their comrades' graves and ashes.

Background

Following the events of 14 October 1973 and the expulsion of the Three Tyrants--Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, Praphas Charusathien, and Narong Kittikachorn--a new constitution was promulgated in 1974 and elected, democratic government resumed after a long period of military dictatorship. However, with parliamentary factionalism and the fact that there was no clear majority in parliament, the elected government was politically unstable. Furthermore, an economic downturn and the rise of student activism led to increased incidence of organized labor strikes, farmer protests, and rightist concern. Government land reform and other liberal economic policies of Kukrit Pramoj also increased the Right's wariness of increasing liberal sentiment in the country.

During this time, various extreme rightist organizations were given better support and preparation. The Village Scouts (Thai: ลูกเสือชาวบ้าน) were intensely trained and recruited to despise Communists and other "un-Thai" characters, and to fight for the "Nation, Religion, and Monarchy." The Village Scouts were closely tied to the Border Patrol Police. Other more extreme, underground rightist movements also grew. This included the Red Gaurand Navapol, the violent arm of the ultra-right, which were organized and trained by the Internal Security Operations Command. Anti-communist sentiment and fear mongering was hyped up in these organizations to the point that a monk, Kittivudho, publicly claimed that killing Communists was not a sin, but in fact, meritorious. Many rightist riots, fights, and protests were whipped up to terrorize liberals.

This anti-communist hysteria was summarized by a western diplomat: "The Thai government and press are forever explaining away their national problems by pointing at the communists ... the real enemy is alive and well and living in Bangkok, driving around in air-conditioned Mercedes."

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