14 October is generally a day of commemoration for the successful removal of the Thanom-Prapas dictatorship in 1973, however, this year Red Shirts gathered for a different reason. For the first time ever, a memorial service was dedicated to the soldiers that died defending democracy against the failed royalist rebellion of 1933.
UDD leader Tida said,
We are here to honour the soldiers who died protecting Thailand’s young democracy. Today, they serve as an example of an army that worked for the people and respected their rights.
On October 11th 1933, a year after the People’s Party revolution brought an end to the absolute monarchy in Thailand, the minor royal Prince Boworadet led a royalist faction of the army to overthrow the people’s government and reinstate the pre-revolutionary regime. Despite some initial success, the royalist rebels were defeated by armed forces loyal to the democratic government on October 14th, and the revolt died out shortly afterwards. This event, the first military victory of the new democratic regime against the old reactionary regime, has since been omitted from Thai history books because it contradicts the narrative that the amaat embraced and nurtured democratic growth after 1932.
Today, Thais are left with a little-known monument that was constructed in 1935 to honour the soldiers who fought and died defeating the royalist revolt. The Monument of the People’s Revolution, as it is known today, is located in Laksi Circle out by the Don Mueang airport in Northern Bangkok at the site where the military advances of Prince Boworadet were halted 79 years ago. However, even this modest monument has lived under the threat of suppression.
Dr Weng explained,
When they were planning the building of the overpass by Laksi Circle, there was talk of destroying this monument… The amaat have systematically tried to erase all remnants of the 1932 People’s Party revolution from public memory.
Surrounded by what appears to be an ongoing construction site, it is clear that the monument has been neglected for years. Still, there are many for whom yesterday’s event was of great personal import. Gen Nat Phahonyothin, son of Thailand’s second prime minister and People’s Party member Gen Phot Phahonyothin, was in attendance yesterday and was deeply moved by the commemorative ceremony that paid tribute to those who fought with his father.
Today, I am very happy. In this world there is no such thing as a secret, the truth always manifests itself in some shape or form. This generation, by their own intelligence, can appreciate the contributions of the people of [the revolutionary era]. No one can indoctrinate the people forever, their intelligence will inevitably spring up some day. This is why the young generations are taking notice.
When asked what he felt of the army’s role in promoting democracy, he responded,
In the past the army was a force for democratic improvement. Unfortunately, ancient regime ideologies have infiltrated the army today and have turned them against democracy. I still have hope that the new generations, with their high degree of political consciousness, can reverse this trend.
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