The Thammasat University massacre of October 6, 1976, is perhaps the most savage example of state violence against pro-democracy protests in Thailand’s history. Along with Oct 14 1973, May 1992, and April-May 2010, the massacre, commonly known as “Oct 6,” is an integral part of the Thai state’s historical suppression of democratic voices.
In October 1976, students at Thammasat University were protesting the return of ousted dictator Thanom, who they had successfully exiled in 1973. Part of the protest involved a reenactment of the murder of two trade unionists by police that had occurred weeks earlier. According to ultra-royalist groups, such as the Red Gaurs and the Village Scouts, the actor resembled the Crown Prince, and the act was therefore deemed anti-monarchist. Armed and outraged ultra-royalist paramilitary groups and the Border Patrol Police surrounded the Thammasat campus area and attacked the students. The confined protesters were beaten, shot, raped, and lynched. According to official records, the massacre of students left 46 dead and 147 injured.
On Saturday, Thammasat University held an all-day event commemorating the 36th anniversary of the October 6th massacres. Along with political speeches, poem recitals, concerts, and remembrance events, Thammasat University hosted an academic panel that discussed political activism in Thailand since Oct 6. The speakers addressed the decline of student engagement in politics, and the need for greater tolerance to differing viewpoints in Thailand’s current political climate.