The Thammasat massacre: the 1976 student massacre still traumatizing Thailand’s youth

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On October 6, 1976, the security forces and pro-royal militias murdered, beat to death and hung dozens of students opposed to the return of the military dictatorship from the trees.

Scenes of panic, shootings, lynchings. The Thammasat University Massacre in Bangkok, where dozens of students were killed, still traumatizes 44 years later part of the youth of Thailand who demonstrate to demand democracy.

On October 6, 1976, the security forces and pro-royal militias murdered, beat to death, and they hung dozens from the trees of students opposed to the return of the military dictatorship.

The repression left a balance of 46 dead, according to the authorities, more than a hundred according to testimonies of the time.

“It was an unequal battle, it was a massacre. The students did not defend themselves, we had no weapons,” survivor Krisadang Nutcharut told AFP, who managed to flee by swimming across the Chao Phraya river that passes behind the university.

Some of his friends were not so lucky. Saw them dragged across the soccer field one was shot and killed before his eyes and many more were killed by a grenade explosion.

What he witnessed motivated him to become an advocate for the activists’ cause prodemocracia.

Today, at 62 years of age, the lawyer represents several figures of the pro-democracy movement that brought together tens of thousands of protesters on September 19, something never seen since General Prayut Chan O Cha’s coup in 2014.

His clients, Anon Numpa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok are demanding the resignation of the military man, who legitimized his mandate in a controversial election in 2019.

They are accused of sedition and have also made appeals to reform the powerful and secret monarchy.

“I have to teach the younger generation not to underestimate the military because they are ruthless,” explains the lawyer.

In the long list of violent acts linked to the numerous coups that the country has experienced during the 20th century, the Thammasat massacre stands out for its brutality.

No senior officials were tried for the atrocities.

The military regime came to power after the massacre ending a three-year hiatus of democracy and accused the students of being the first to open fire. They have always denied it.

Even today it is almost impossible to question the official version, lament the specialists in this period.

The more I try to power “bury shameful facts like these, the more controversy will grow, “explains Thai-American writer Pitchaya Sudbanthad, whose novel” Bangkok Wakes to Rain “deals with the trauma of October 6.

According to him, today’s youth share “the same desire for a functional and progressive democracy as the students of the 1970s.”

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