Comparing crackdowns

10 10 2012

Achara Ashayagachat has an op-ed at the Bangkok Post that is worthy of consideration for the attention to the increased attention to thee grisly events of 1976 and the murderous crackdowns in April and May 2010.

The memorial event for 6 October at Thammasat University “is usually a low-key event, observed by former student activists and relatives of the dead.” The difference this year was that the red shirts have joined in the remembrance.

The slogan for “the red shirts adopting the cause of the Oct 6 rally as their own.” They linked the events of 1976 and 2010 in several ways. One was in their construction: 6 x 36 = 112.

Achara explains: “Six is the day of the month of October when the crackdown took place; 36 represents this year being the 36th anniversary of the massacre. And 112 stands for Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.”

Some of the crowd reportedly chanted : “same masterminds _ then and now”, linking impunity, state forces, military and monarchy.

They say this is a mighty network, cutting across powerful institutions such as the military, the bureaucracy and the propagandist media, which fanned public anger against anyone portrayed as “aiming to topple the monarchy”. People were massacred in acts claimed to be maintaining loyalty.

Achara adds that “[a]n air of great mystery also hovers over these two events. Two years after the 2010 violence and 36 years after the Oct 6 massacre, there remain missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzles.”

The “unfinished business of democratisation” she says, “falls on the shoulders of relatives and friends of the victims of political violence.”

The impunity for state officials remains the rule, yet there seems greater pressure for holding those who ordered the deaths of citizens this time around.


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