AN EVENT was held at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus, to commemorate the massacre of scores of students on this day in 1976 with copies of a book entitled “We Won’t Forget Charupong” given to participants, Matichon newspaper said.
On October 6, 1976, state forces massacred student activists on the lawn of Thammasat University after they had occupied the campus in opposition to the return to Thailand of former dictator Thanom Kittikachorn. The military and arch royalists accused them of being anti-monarchical communists, and the military, police and right-wing paramilitary forces had Thammasat surrounded, Time magazine said.
With thousands of students under siege, authorities opened fire onto the campus with M-16s, recoilless rifles and grenades. For several hours, these forces — later joined by vigilantes — shot, beat, raped and murdered unarmed students, some as they tried to either flee or surrender. The chaos was used to justify a military coup later that same day.
Official figures put the death toll at 46, with 167 wounded and more than 3,000 students arrested. The death toll is disputed to this day, with survivors putting it at more like 100.
Photos of the students who died were displayed in front of this university’s auditorium and from 6.30 a.m. onwards people from many circles joined the activities. Among them were Mr. Sutham Saengprathum, former secretary-general of the Student Centre of Thailand, Professor Dr. Thongchai Winichakul from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ms. Wipha Daomanee, a representative of the October People Network, Asst. Prof. Dr. Adisorn Chantarasuk, dean of this university’s Faculty of Learning Sciences, Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and this party’s secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon.
Also present was Mr. Thani Jiriyasin, a representative of friends of Charupong Thongsin who died in the massacre.
Various organisations sent wreaths including Pheu Thai Party, Jit Phumisak Foundation, October 14 Foundation, Thai Volunteer Service, Southern Isan Club ’19, Committee of the Relatives of May 35 Heroes, Chaiwana Foundation, Central Organisation Foundation for Democracy, Labour Network for People’s Rights, Mirror Foundation and Liberation Arts Group.
Lots of people lined up to register and receive a copy of the book “We Won’t Forget Charupong” with many also registering to join a “Walking Tour” where events that occurred in 1976 were related.
The commemoration of the October 6, 1976 event at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus, this morning. Photos: Matichon