1976 in the news

7 10 2021

The Bangkok Post reported on the memorial rally, but little more. On that memorial event it noted:

Little has changed in the 45 years since students and activists were massacred by the military and rightwing radicals at Thammasat University….

This point was made by speakers when activists and members of the victims’ families gathered on Wednesday at the memorial at Thammasat University….

The Thalufah group said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that they would never forget the events of Oct 6 1976, and said violent means were unacceptable nowdays.

Red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar said students continued to fight for democracy 45 years later, with the country still divided with no political solution to the problem.

Despite the efforts of the state and especially the bureaucracy, military and monarchy, the events of 1976 have never been forgotten. The state’s success has been in preventing any meaningful investigation, covering up the events, and in providing impunity for the murderers who stalked the students at Thammasat and for several years after. Yet another effort is being made to rectify this, although the International Criminal Court is a high hurdle.

Kudos to Thai Examiner for its several reports on 6 October 1976. It did much better than most of the mainstream media. We are especially grateful for their interview with Sutham Saengprathum who was Secretary-General of the National Student Center of Thailand in 1976. As we recall it – correct us if our collective memory is faulty – Sutham was jailed as a political prisoner for a long period, and there was an international campaign for his release.

We especially like hearing from other students of the period as much of the “heavy lifting” on 1976 has been done in English by Thongchai Winichakul. See recent efforts here and here. Without other voices in English accounts, 1976 risks becoming Thongchai’s 1976. His major contribution is Moments of Silence: The Unforgetting of the October 6, 1976, Massacre in Bangkok, available from Library Genesis.


Incoherence and double standards

23 10 2012

Avudh Panananda at The Nation has an almost incoherent op-ed that displays some of the usual double standards seen in the mainstream media.

He begins with an attack on Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung holding “a series of public forums on reconciliation…”. Avudh states that “Chalerm is trying to mobilise state mechanisms for a government offensive to sway public sentiment and achieve greater national unity.” But he quickly adds that this is a nonsense, and that what Chalerm is really doing is trying to get “an amnesty for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

The evidence for this claim seems to be that Chalerm has “two pro-Thaksin politicians, Adisorn Piengket and Sutham Saenpratoom [Saengprathum]” working with him…. In fact, in government, Chalerm, who is pro-Thaksin, is surrounded by pro-Thaksin politicians who make up the Puea Thai Party. Avudh’s claims amount to nothing but yellow-shirted extremism.

Of course, Avudh, as a dedicated yellow shirt, guesses the plan is for a Thaksin amnesty, for as he states, “Thaksin’s opponents [meaning yellow shirted ultra-royalists, including Avudh, and the Democrat Party] have been monitoring developments closely with an aim to counter every move the government makes in regard to an amnesty.” He asserts that this move, constructed in his own mind, could lead to a repeat of “the political violence of two years ago…”. We may be missing something, but PPT’s view is that any violence would need to be constructed by anti-Thaksin groups. Maybe Avudh knows that they are planning something? Maybe he is just given to concoction and hyperbole?

Avudh seems miffed that the “Metropolitan Police Bureau has been busy training police to rein in crowds.” He claims that police “intend to foil any yellow-shirt protests at an early stage rather than allow the crowds to surge.” No evidence for this, not even in the meager budgets for the police Avudh mentions in the article. Indeed, various yellow shirts have been seen on the streets even in recent weeks. Red shirts too.

Avudh’s double standards are clear when he begins to write of “a rally at the Royal Turf Club organised by the Pitak Siam [Protecting Siam] Organisation.” There can be nothing sinister in this because, well, it is organized by his buddies, even if they are led by a rabid royalist “retired Army officer General Boonlert Kaewprasit…”. Avudh seems to deny that this group and its leader are who they are and any suggestion that there are others behind the group.

Boonlert, as chairman of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School Foundation and leader of Class 1, has urged soldiers to protect the monarchy. And in attacking Nitirat, warned of a possible coup to prevent “disrespect” being shown to the monarchy. In fact, he has repeatedly talked of a military coup in this context or to protect General Prem Tinsulanonda. Boonlert was once reported to be a close aide to former Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart. Far from being a rabid royalist repeatedly rousing the military to a coup, Avudh points out that “Pitak Siam organised its first activity, billed as a merit making, in June. Its second event this Saturday will focus on populism and runaway power.” And perhaps Avudh sees it as unnecessary to mention that the Royal Turf Club is closely associated with military and palace.

We take it that in Avudh’s world of double standards, merit-making and “public good” outweighs the repeated calls for illegal military interventions to throw out elected governments. He concludes by observing: “Pitak Siam may presently appear harmless. But it has the potential to become a roaring tiger should a misstep happen in efforts to bring Thaksin home before achieving genuine reconciliation.”

And back to Avudh’s point above, where he claims bias in preparing for crowd control: Chalerm agreed to meet with Boonlert, according to another report in The Nation, to “thwart plans for an anti-government rally scheduled for Sunday” which the paper seems to think will be “massive.” In fact, in the report, Chalerm seemed to express no opposition to the rally being held. In fact, he is cited: “we cannot stop it because it is their right. But we will ensure that it is orderly.”

And when The Nation wants a comment on a planned red shirt rally on Saturday, of course they get it from the military! In fact, however, the military plays down both rallies. But that doesn’t stop The Nation’s yellow-shirted foaming and frothing as they make their stories biased and largely fact-less.

This is the kind of illogical and concocted nonsense that passes for “journalism” at The Nation.

Finland plot legal cases

25 03 2009

Back in 2006, before the coup, there were allegations that Thaksin Shinawatra and some of his Thai Rak Thai party colleagues had hatched a plan to create a republic in Thailand. At the time, this added to claims that Thaksin was anti-monarchy.

Wikipedia explains it this way: “In May 2006, on the eve of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th anniversary celebrations, the Sondhi Limthongkul-owned Manager Daily newspaper published the details of what it called the Finland Plan, Finland Declaration, or Finland Strategy. The articles claimed that Thaksin and former student leaders of Thailand’s 1970s democratic movement met in Finland in 1999 to develop a plan to institute rule by a single party, overthrow the monarchy and establish a republic, and hold elections for provincial governors. The 5-part article were titled ‘Finland Strategy: Thailand’s Revolution Plan?’, was written by Pramote Nakhonthap, and appeared in [the Manager on] 17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 May 2006. Thaksin’s alleged co-conspirators apparently included Thai Rak Thai party members Prommin Lertsuridej …, Chaturon Chaisaeng …, Surapong Suebwonglee …, Adisorn Piangket …, Sutham Saengprathum …, and Phumtham Wechayachai …, all of whom had been affiliated with the Communist Party of Thailand following the massacre of 6 October 1976. The allegations were taken up by several prominent critics, including leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, … Chai-anan Samudavanija, Senator Sophon Supapong, … Pramote Nakornthab, and Democrat … Thaworn Senniam. None of the accusers provided any evidence to back up their allegations.”

The Bangkok Post (25 March 2009: “Court rejects Thaksin suit against Sondhi”) now reports the outcome of two Criminal Court cases related to these allegations. Thaksin had brought a case against Sondhi and 10 of his co-panelists in a ASTV televised discussion of the Finland Plot allegations at Thammasat University that was extensively reported in the Manager newspaper and on its website. In rejecting the charges, the court “ruled that the defendants did not commit wrongdoing because they served the role of academics, thinkers and communicators when they expressed opinions that were critical of the administrative policy of the Thaksin regime.”

At the same time, in a related case, the “handed down a one-year jail term to commentator Pramote and Khunthong Lorserivanich, editor of Manager daily owned by Mr Sondhi, for articles Mr Pramote wrote relating to the Finland conspiracy that were published on May 17-25. The jail terms were suspended to two years. The two were also fined 100,000 baht each on the charge.”

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