Taken from an article called “Activists : Too early to claim victory for democracy” by Achara Ashayagachat that was published via Bangkokpost Online on October 6, 2013.
Thais cannot yet claim victory in the struggle for democracy, even with the red-shirt movement that emerged in the past three years, said activists involved in organising the 37th commemoration of the bloody crackdown on student-led protests inside Thammasat University.
Though few contemporary students from the university lent a hand in the morning religious rituals and wreath-laying, the relatives and those “born” out of the Oct 6 1976 political uprising eagerly joined in the rites on Sunday.
Surachai Danwattananusorn, a lese majeste prisoner and a Daeng Siam leader who was released Friday under a royal pardon, showed up at the solemn commemorations, joining Jaran Ditapichai, chair of the committee organising the 37th Oct 6 and the 40th Oct 14 commemorations this year and others.
Mr Jaran said Oct 14 paved the way for more freedom of speech and assembly but the path towards democracy remained twisted and fundamental differences among activists had ushered in more rifts which could be seen in colour-coded political clashes.
“It’s important that lessons from the past October events must be learned by the current generation,” said Mr Jaran, also a core leader of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).
Watt Wallayangkoon, a well-known writer of the “October Generation”, said in an opening speech that the victory of the student-led movement was short-lived from Oct 14 1973 to Oct 6 1976 due to counteraction by ultra-royalists and paranoia over communism within society, as well as external pressures.
The red-shirt “May 2010 Generation” (activists engaged in the anti-Abhisit Vejjajiva government demonstrations), said Mr Watt, seemed to be more visible and active in the contemporary democracy movement but their organisation was free flowing and not as strong as the Communist Party of Thailand-driven jungle fighting.
“The red-shirt’s struggle is not yet finished,” Mr Watt said.
Thantawut Twewarodomgul, a lese majeste prisoner who was released in July this year, said Oct 14 1973 to Oct 6 1976 was the important prelude to the contemporary people’s movements.
Without the courage and innocent contributions of previous (October) generations, there would be no fighters in later years, said Mr Thantawut.
He joined red-shirt intellectuals Sutachai Yimprasert and Suda Rangkupan at the night performance of a Chinese opera-style political drama at Thammasat University’s main auditorium.
“My participation on the stage is just a symbol to carry the torch of unfinished business from the October generation. With my presence, we hope there should be a seamless transformation and recognition of lese majeste prisoners as political prisoners who humbly participate in the move towards democratisation,” said Mr Thantawut.