Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Thais dare not ask this question to me. . ."

I am live-blogging from Thammsat University in Bangkok, the site of the massacre of 6 October 1976 where students were hunted down and murdered by right-wing militia groups. This weekend, interviewed on CNN and Al Jazeera, Samak Sundaravej, Thailand's new prime minister, flatly denied the occurrence of the horrors.

On this campus in a garden a monument stands to the fallen students. Here I will set the Thai prime minister's own words against the red stone of the monument.

The following is from a transcript of the CNN interview published in Monday's Bangkok Post (video here).
CNN: Would you like to take the opportunity now to condemn what happened in 1976?
SAMAK: Actually it’s a movement of some students. They don’t like the government.
CNN: But dozens of people, maybe hundreds of people died.
SAMAK: No, just only one died. There are 3,000 students in the Thammsat University.
CNN: The official death toll was 46, and many people say it was much higher than that.
SAMAK: No. For me, no deaths, one unlucky guy being beaten and being burned in Sanam Luang. Only one guy by that day.
CNN: So there was no massacre?
SAMAK: No not at all, but taking pictures, 3000 students, boys and girls lined up, they say that is the death toll. 3,000.
On the weekend, Samak was also interviewed by Al Jazeera (video here), and in that interview Samak elaborated on the same lie. A complete transcript of the interview* is available courtesy of blogger Awzar Thi of "Rule of Lords" blog. Here is an excerpt from the Al Jazeera interview:
AL JAZEERA: Ok. I’d like to go back to 1976 and the Thammasat University protests, where hundreds of students were beaten, shot, lynched and burned. Historians…
SAMAK: Yeah, where did you get that report?
AL JAZEERA: Historians suggest that you on your radio programme urged mobs of people to turn out and attack the students…
SAMAK: How old are you at that time?
SAMAK: How old are you?
Let me refer to…
SAMAK: Do you born yet?
Do you deny that…
SAMAK: I haven’t got any concern. They write some dirty history to me. I brought the case to the court, so many of them, all time to time. The three incident of that time, only one guy died in Sanam Luang, because somebody beat them and burn them by the… by the… by the… by the wire, uh, by the… by the… by the tire. And this only one. Three thousand student is in the Thammasat University. So they were caught there, and then the military would like to bring them out. So they take the shirt, and like this, like that, uh, like the, bring the shirt and put it on [gesturing to tie hands behind back with opened shirt]. Three thousand lying on the ground of Thammasat University football field. So that they bring all the truck to bring them, put in the shirt and put them on, and then going to let them out to the barrack. Then the only way not to let the people being harmed. Three thousand of them. And then they going out there and so many afraid they fled into the jungle, so many go back home. And then, nobody die in Thammasat University. And the student try to go to the barrack… [?] just to bring the… Nobody die, not…
AL JAZEERA: Well with all due respect, historians refer to it as one of the worst atrocities in Thailand’s history.
SAMAK: That is a dirty history. Somebody did it. Somebody write something dirty like that.
AL JAZEERA: Well with all due respect, I’ve actually watched the footage…
SAMAK: What the footage?
AL JAZEERA: Of that incident…
SAMAK: The killing?
AL JAZEERA: Yes, I have seen…
SAMAK: It’s impossible.
AL JAZEERA: I have seen people being beaten…
SAMAK: Yes, true, in Sanam Luang, yes.
AL JAZEERA: …their limp bodies on the ground…
SAMAK: Yes, that’s true, that is one guy.
AL JAZEERA: You’re saying one…
AL JAZEERA: Human rights groups would suggest it was dozens of students, possibly in the hundreds.
SAMAK: For me, eh, for me, eh, if I am dirty, I am concerned with many thing, I cannot come this far. This dirty history always come. I just have a, a lady like you come from far away, asking this question. Even the Thai, they dare not ask this question to me. . .
Even the Thai, they dare not ask this question to me. Well, I think I will ask it then. See my next post.

by Jotman. The monument to the October 6 movement depicts "a dam across the current of history." The surface of the structure is inscribed with the date Oct 6, 2519 (the year 1976 in the Buddhist calendar in Thai script). Inlaid are sculptures of students who were killed during the massacre.
Note: See my previous post, Thailand's creepy new prime minister.
* Via New Mandala.


  1. Great blog post.

    One thing, the year 1976 is 2519 on the Thai Buddhist calendar, not 1516.

  2. Hi Rikker, Thank you! And thanks for pointing out the error -- I have changed it.


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