STUDENTS and the general public today (Oct. 6) joined the activity entitled “October 6 the Unpaid Blood Debt” at the Historical Sculpture Park within Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus, with this year’s Jarupong Thongsin Award going to protest leader Mr. Parit Chivarak, or Penguin, Thai Rath newspaper said.
On October 6, 1976, state forces massacred scores of student activists on the lawn of Thammasat University, Time magazine said
The campus had been occupied by student demonstrators who opposed the return to Thailand of former dictator Thanom Kittikachorn. The military and arch royalists accused them of being antimonarchical communists, and the military, police and right-wing paramilitary forces had Thammasat surrounded.
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.
Today’s commemorative event started early in the morning and was attended by Mr. Chaturon Chaisang, Mr. Nattawut Saikua, Dr. Tosaporn Sereerak, Mr. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Mr. Pita Limjaroenrat and Ms. Pannika Wanich as well as other well-known people who placed wreaths and flowers in memory of those who died.
Mr. Krisadang Nutjarat, an attorney at the Lawyers for Human Rights Centre and a former student leader on October 6, 1976, gave a speech and at one point he said that the heroes of October 6, 1976 and students who died still haven’t received an apology from the mastermind nor have they received compensation and among them are those who were unfairly bullied.
He added that the massacre 45 years ago is one that has been judged in the public eye as a political crime and the perpetrators of this crime must be punished.
Receiving the Jarupong Thongsin Award on Penguin’s behalf was his mother Mrs. Sureerat Chiwarak.
She said her son should have come to personally receive the award but he has been detained for more than 60 days. However he sent a message that it was a great honour to receive the award.
He also mentioned in his message that in giving this award every year it shows that the people still have to make sacrifices in demanding democracy.
The October 6, 1976 commemorative event at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus, today. Photos: Thai Rath