As we have pointed out several times in recent weeks, the royalist state is “protected” by the military and ultra-royalists. This task requires that these groups – most especially the military – repress and kill citizens seen as dissidents or an opposition.
In 1976, this protection of the monarchy saw murders in the monarchy’s name. The most dramatic and horrible event was the royalist-inspired attack on people – mostly students – damned as “disloyal.” This massacre at Thammasat University, probably killed more people than the dark events of April and May 2010, yet there has never been any state investigation nor anyone sent to trial. Impunity was the rule because the state’s troops and rightist gangs were doing the work of the royalist state. The main perpetrators of the massacre are claimed to be the Border Patrol Police who trained many of the rightist gangs in the name of the monarchy and with considerable U.S. funding. The BPP was and remains close to the royal family.
The regime that was put in place following the massacre and a coup was, like 2006, headed by a palace favorite. Thanin Kraivixien remains a Privy Counselor even today, considered “respected” because of that. Yet the fact is that his administration was one of the most right-wing, repressive and brutal regimes. Mercifully, after just a year, he was thrown out by another coup, led by General Kriangsak Chomanan, who was never forgiven by the palace for throwing out the its prime minister. Of course, this led to Kriangsak’s ouster, arranged to replace him with General Prem Tinsulanond, another palace favorite, who remains president of the Privy Council today. Just days after the bloodshed, the crown prince distributed awards to paramilitary personnel involved.
In other words, the massacre at Thammasat University was intimately linked to palace political machinations. Neither the palace nor the military has been far from the politics of the period since, and the massacres of Bangkok protesters seen in 1992 and 2010.
A major event was organized to remember this 1976 event. It is in Thai and can be found here. Prachatati released new pictures from the period last year, and the BBC has a 10-minute documentary worth accessing. So is Puey Ungpakorn’s account of the events around 6 October.