A Letter from Dr. Puey Ungpakorn

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The Violence and The October 6, 1976 Coup : Intention & Brutality

1.

On Wednesday, October 6, 1976 at about 7:30 AM, the Thai police, armed with the destructive weapons of war, were authorized by the Government of Seni Pramoj to attack Thammasat University. They indiscriminately charged at every one. In addition to the police force, the attack was joined by members of the Red Gaurs, the Village Scouts, and the Nawapol. Some of these stormed the university campus with the police. Some were waiting outside to attack the demonstrators who escaped from the raid within the campus. People were shot, killed, and injured. The people who managed to escape from the raid faced the most brutal and inhuman abuse; some were lynched, soaked with gasoline, and burnt alive. A large number of them were beaten. Official news reported that 40 persons were killed, but by unofficial accounts over a hundred were dead and several hundred wounded.

A few thousands surrendered themselves to the police. These were university students from various universities. Some were laymen. Besides, a large number were the university officers and professors who were in charge of the site and the property of the university. When the defendents were brought into police stations and other detention camps, they were beaten and tortured by various means. Some of them were so severely tortured that they were compelled to confess and implicate other people.

2.

There has long been the intention to demolish the strength of the freedom-inspired students and people. After the October 1973 incident which re-established the democratic regime, it was said that the country would be orderly and peaceful if 10,000 - 20,000 students and people could be got rid of. Such a conviction has been implemented at the present time. During the April 1976 election, several political parties put forth that : “Any type of Socialism is Communism”. And Kittiwutto, a monk who was the co-leader of the Nawapol group, told the press that “it was not sinful to kill Communists”. From September to October 1976, some said that the slaughter of 30,000 participants of the anti-Thanom demonstration would be the most cost-effective investment.

3.

There were certain groups of soldiers and policemen who lost their political power because of the October 1973 incident. There were people who feared that the would lose economic power within a democratic regime. These were certain groups of capitalists and landlords. There were also people who did not desire to see democracy in Thailand. These groups had attempted by various means to destroy the strength of their oppostion. They used radio, television, handouts, rumours, anonymous charges, and unsigned letters to attack and intimidate their oppositions. They also set up several organizations which would be used as the instruments of demolition, as will be noted in No. 20 and others below.

The method of these groups was to create the general idea of communist threats. Anyone whom they disliked was branded as a communist. Not even Prime Ministers Kukrit, Seni, or certain other cardinals were exempted from this false accusation. Another method was the use “Nation, Religion, and the King” as the instruments of false accusation; any opposition was interpreted as Unpatriotic, Unreligious, and Disloyal.

4.

During the September-October 1976 event, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn resorted to the “yellow-robe religion” to safeguard his return to Thailand. And the Royal Institution was used as the justification to attack the students and people at Thammasat University.

THE HANGING

5.

Students, workers, peasants, and the general public demonstrated against Field Marshal Thanom when he returned to Thailand on September 19. However, this portent was different from the previous ones, and was not even similar to the anti-Prapas demonstration. That is, the demonstrators had shown that they would give the democratic government a chance to solve the problem; either to arrange for Field Marshal Thanom to leave Thailand or to cope legally with the Marshal. In the meantime, posters were put up in public places condemning the Marshal. And there were several public gatherings (until October 14).

The process of putting up the anti-Thanom posters was seriously attacked by the opposition of the students and the people. Two Thammasat students and one other student were assaulted and seriously wounded. In Nakornprathom Province, two workers of the Region Electricity Sector went out to put up anti-Thanom posters. They were lynched and their bodies displayed in public. The Government [under the military regime - translator] eventually admitted that the city police of Nakornprathom Province were the criminals.

6.

The anti-Thanom demonstration of the National Student Center of Thailand (NSCT) cooperated by the “Heroes of October 14, 1973”, the wounded from the October 1973 clash (some were permanently disabled) and by the relatives of these heroes. The heroes' relatives protested by going on a hunger strike in front of the Prime Minister’s Office Building since early October. But the police and the officers tried by all means to bar these people. On Sunday October 3, the heroes' relatives, with the cooperation of the Buddhist and Cultural Association of Thammasat University, moved into Thammasat University to continue protesting.

The university administrators had anticipated that there would be a public gathering on October 4, which would be an obstacle to end of term examinations. They sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister and the Education Minister asking them to provide the demonstrators with a safe location, so that they could safely continue their peaceful protest elsewhere.

7.

At noon on Monday October 4, things went as had been anticipated. There was a public gathering of students from Thammasat and other universities as well as outsiders. There were 500 of them. The demonstrators discussed

  1. the issue of Field Marshal Thanom, and
  2. the murder of the two workers of the Regional Electricity Sector.

There was also a display by 2 students depicting the lynching of the two workers. Apinand, a fourth year liberal arts student who was also a member of the Thammasat Drama Group, acted as one who was hung.

Several staff members who went to watch the demonstration informed me that the players acted very well. None of them was struck that Apinand’s face or the cosmetic make-up made him resemble the Crown Prince. The display was really intended to refer to the Nakornprathom incident.

I came back from the deans' meeting and lunched at 1:30 PM and, thinking that the demonstration would bar the students from examination, I went to forbid it. It was about 2:00 PM when I went to terminate the protest. By that time, the mock lynching was over.

8.

Next morning, pictures of the demonstration and the mock lynching appeared in several newspapers. In those pictures, Apinand quite resembled the Crown Prince, although not exactly. However the picture in the Dao Siam (which was the students' opposition all this time) so strongly resembled the Crown Prince that some people suspected that the Dao Siam had 'fixed' the picture. The Armored Brigade Radio Station, NSCT’s other enemy, which manipulated and conducted the Red Gaurs to demolish the Thammasat campus in August 1975 with bombs and other weapons, used the mock lynching as a significant factor in charging the NSCT as communists. It also charged that the NSCT intended to destroy the royal institution, that the students attempted to make up Apinand’s face so it would look like the Crown Prince, and then hung him. The broadcast of this station, the Armored Radio Station, began urging this attack on Tuesday, October 5, and continuously broadcast this issue during the night until Wednesday morning of October 6.

THE PROTEST OF OCTOBER 4, 1976

9.

The National Student Center of Thailand had been organizing a public gathering at Sanam Luang [an open field in front of Thammasat, used as a weekend market - translator] since Friday October 1, to urge the government on

  1. Thanom’s issue, and
  2. to arrest and punish the Nakornprathom lynching murderers.

According to the students, the demonstration was an evaluation of their strength. It was not planned to be held on Saturday or Sunday, October 2-3 because there was a weekend market at Sanam Luang. However, the students agreed to gather there again on Monday October 4.

I had heard from the students that they would organize this demonstration at the beginning of October because the students found out that the retirement of several high-ranking officers and the annual shuffling of the significant positions in the military would cause dissatisfactions among several groups and so possibly lead to a coup. At the same time, they meant to urge the government to take action on the two issues mentioned above.

The Labor Union of Thailand also scheduled a one-hour strike on Friday October 8 as an initial reaction to support the demonstration.

Several newspapers wrote to Premier Seni Pramoj, and asking how he felt about the possibility of the public gathering organized by the NSCT at Sanam Luang moving to the Thammasat campus. He said that it would be very good. (The press then asked how I, the rector of Thammasat University, felt about the Prime Minister’s answer. I told them it was not a good idea at all.)

10.

The demonstration on Monday evening, October 4, at Sanam Luang was similar to the anti-Prapas protest last August [1975]. That was, when it started raining the demonstrators broke the university gate and moved in atarting at about 8:00 PM.

The university administration filed a trespass complaint at the police station as required. The station sent a police troop of approximately 40 to patrol the situation with the Deputy Rector on Student Affairs. The 40 policemen could not have done anything to stop the 25,000 - 40,000 demonstrators, except to use their weapons in an effort to forbid the demonstrators from entering Thammasat, which would have led to a riot, an undesirable situation for everyone including the government. Therefore, it was impossible to forbid them entering into Thammasat. Meanwhile, the Red Gaurs and Nawapol members were gathering in a nearby monastery, but only a small number. They did not have sufficient force and so did not try to do anything.

The participants of the NSCT demonstration stayed in Thammasat campus all night until Wednesday morning of October 6, when the incident occurred.

11.

When a large number of the people flooded in at 8:00 PM on Monday October 4, the university administration called up to consult Dr. Prakop Huntasing, the Privy Council member and the President of the University Council. With the consent of Dr. Prakop, they immediately ordered the closure of the university in order to protect other students and professors who were university officials from danger. (At the time when Prapas returned, the university had also been ordered closed after the shooting and bombing which cost 2 lives). They called the Minister of the State University Bureau, and got an approval. Afterwards they produced an official report to the Prime Minister and Minister.

Then the university administration temporarily moved its office to the National Education Bureau, leaving only 40-50 personnel to guard the properties and buildings of the university. Continuous communication with these personnel was maintained throughout this time via phone and by other means.

MASS INSTIGATION AND THE LAW OF THE PACK

12.

The Armored Brigade Radio and other stations in its network instigated listener anger at the students and civilians who were protesting inside Thammasat University. All this time, their broadcast blamed the protestors for undermining the institution of the monarchy. They called on the Red Gaurs, Nawapol, and Village Scout units to perform two actions:

  1. to annihilate the “Communists inside Thammasat”, and
  2. to denounce the Royal Thai Government Administration for forming a new government without appointing Samak Suntaravej and Somboon Sitritorn as Deputy Ministers of the Defense Ministry.

In the annihilation campaign against the “Communists” in Thammasat, the Red Gaurs and gangsters had been firing into the university from midnight on, until dawn of Wednesday October 6. Those inside Thammasat had occasionally returned the fire.

13.

The instigation of the Armored Brigade Radio put pressure on the Government. Seni Pramoj called the cabinet to an emergency meeting. Late in the night of Tuesday October 5, the cabinet resolved to bring in student leaders and Apinand, the actor who played at being hung, for investigation.

At dawn of October 6, Mr. Sutham, the Secretary General of the National Student Center of Thailand, and a number of other student leaders showed up at the Prime Minister’s House with Mr. Apinand, the actor who played being hung, to show their sincerity. By chance, the Prime Minister had left for his office and phoned the Police Chief asking him to arrest Mr. Sutham, Mr. Spinand, and others, and bring them for invesigation. I have recorded this in my diary. At the time of writing this letter [28 October] I still do not know the result of the investigation.

14.

The police assualt on Thammasat University by order of the Prime Minister was exclusively the action of the Government. The rector had not been consulted in any way whatsoever. Even though the rector had talked on the phone with Prime Minister Seni Pramoj late at night on Tuesday October 5, the Prime Minister had never told the rector that the Government would call the student leaders or Mr. Apinand to an investigation. If the Prime Minister had wished to do it that way, he would have had plenty of other peaceful methods to bring them in for investigation without this unreasonable action.

15.

The assault on the students and the people at Thammasat commenced at midnight with gunfire into the university from outside. The police surrounded the university at 3:00 AM and started firing at 6:00 AM. Those inside Thammasat requested the police to stop firing. The police did not stop! They again asked for temporary cease-fire in order to give the women inside the university a chance to get out. The police turned a deaf ear to both requests!

ARMS INSIDE THAMMASAT?

16.

During the assault on Thammasat, the Armored Brigade Radio had been exaggerating and playing up the rumor that there were heavy weapons inside Thammasat. It claimed that there were grenades, heavy machine guns, and other heavy arms. This totally false accusation had been used since 1974, such as the Red Gaurs' assault in August 1975, but when it came to prove its truth the police’s search after the rally against Gen. Prapas, produced no evidence to show that any weapons were hidden inside Thammasat.

This time, what the police could produce to the public were two rifles, shotguns, and grenades. The accusation was unquestionably made up from thin air.

Ever since the end of 1974, politicians and some student leaders had found it necessary to carry arms in order to protect themselves. At that time, the Red Gaur units, police, and soldiers already started to physically harm, to murder, worker leaders, peasant leaders, student leaders, and politicians. But the police have never apprehended the murderers. (In similar circumstances when a policeman killed another policeman, or someone tried to kill a politician who belonged to the Government’s party, the police were able to arrest the murderers without hesitation.) Frankly, knowing that one’s life is threatened, having weapons in one’s possession is reasonable enough.

From Monday October 4 to the morning of Wednesday October 6, the students and civilians had opportunity to bring such weapons inside the university. Both the protestors and the Red Gaurs had equal opportunity. It had been the fact that the Red Gaurs have carried heavy weapons to public places on several occasions. The police had and have never dared to forbid them to do so or even asked for a search.

Despite the eminent threats mentioned, my opinion is that in all cases political protests should be conducted peacefully and refrain from using weapons. These are the kind of protests that are lawful and under constitutional guarantee.

17.

Up until the time of the writing of this diary, the “investigations” and “interrogations” of the police and the military. led to claims that there are many tunnels inside Thammasat. But the officers have never publicized any evidence, such as pictures of any tunnels. Their claims are false reports. Mr. Damrong Cholvicharn, the Director-General of the Civil Engineering Department and the Chairman of the committee to assess the damages at Thammasat announced that there is not a single tunnel inside Thammasat. He emphasized in his finding that the other claims were all nothing but rumors.

Utis Nakasawat mentioned, on televison, an air-conditioned room and a toilet near the ceiling of a building at Thammasat. I think he meant the top-floor of the Administration Building. There is nothing up there so secretive. Who, other than Utis Nakasawat, would go all the way up there to use a toilet near the ceiling? Moreover, Utis even stated that a lot of the protestors inside Thammasat sandals, hence were terrorists; terrorists wear sandals. If what he said were true, then all 40 million Thais who wear sandals must be terrorists. I only single out Utis Nakasawat as an example of the Armored Brigade Radio's spokesmen. There are plenty of other accusers and similar false accusations. These men shamelessly blamed their opponents on truthless grounds.

THE LAW OF THE PACK HAS DESTROYED DEMOCRACY

18.

Another demand of the Armored Brigade Radio and those pulling strings behind the station was a call for the Prime Minister to appoint Mr. Samak and Mr. Somboon as the Ministers of Interior, and to expell the other three “leftist” Ministers. Those other three Ministers were Mr. Surin Masdit, Mr. Chuan Leekpai, and Mr. Damrong Latipat. The Armored Brigade Radio was vengeful on this matter. When Seni Pramoj resigned in September, the Armored Brigade Radio recruited people, hiring them to go on the air to demonstrate the opinion of the “masses”. All those hired expressed in almost the same statements that Seni must remain as Prime Minister, but that he must get rid of “bad” Ministers. There, the Radio’s wish was turned upside down; Prime Minister Seni fired Mr. Samak and Mr. Somboon, and thus implying that Mr. Samak and Mr. Somboon, backed by the Armored Brigade Radio, were the bad persons.

19.

The Armored Brigade Radio mobilized the forces of the Village Scouts, the Nawapol, the Red Gaurs, and other groups under its influence to gather in the foreground of the King Rama V statue to demand the formation of a new government. That rally lasted all night on Tueday October 5, through the morning of October 6, till Wednesday afternoon when Seni gave in to the demand, and promised to form a new government.

20.

It is noteworthy that ever since October 14 1973 the students, workers, and peasants were blamed for “using mass agitation methods” and “using the law of the pack to control the law of the land”. But in reality it has been no other than the actions of the Armored Brigade Radio, the Red Gaurs, the Nawapol, the Village Scouts, and other groups that used the mass agitation method, and the law of the pack to control the law of the land.

The story above had not just begun in 1976, it had already begun in 1974. The Red Gaurs are an organisation of vocational students set up by the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC). Some of these students have graduated, some haven't, some do not go to school. ISOC set up this organization in order to negate the students' movement. Ever since the time we were drafting the Constitution, the foreign press has been reporting on the Red Gaurs and naming Col. Sudaai Haadin as its supporter. There has never been a denial. ISOC was an organizer, a trainer, the arms supplier, and funder, giving out money provided for intelligence service. And ever since the middle of 1974, Red Gaur units have been publicly armed with various types of guns and grenades. No policeman or soldier would dare arrest them or give them a warning. The Red Gaurs would always threaten the students with weapons every time they would stage a demonstration, no matter how peaceful. Counting the protests against some constitutional sections in 1974, against the American military bases in 1974-1975, the assualt on Thammasat in August 1975, the protests against the returns of Field Marshals Prapas and Thanom, in every single one of them there were casualties. Even the newspapers' photographers who tried to take pictures of the Red Gaurs carrying weapons were frequently injured. In the election in April 1976, the Red Gaurs took a share in harassing candidates, and assaulting some so-called “leftist” political parties.

21.

I would like to talk about the ISOC now. Besides being the instigator advocating the Red Gaurs to commit violence, the ISOC played an important role in forming other groups and units useful to the military, such as the Nawapol. And all this time the ISOC has been spending the national budget for secret services.

ISOC used to be the CSOC, i.e. Communist Suppression Operation Command, and then later the CSOD, or Communist Suppression Operation Directorate. When the Administration changed its policy and normalized relations with communist countries, the organization's name became the Internal Security Operation Command. The organization was set up by Field Marshal Prapas. From then on, it has become a prized part of the heritage of the dictators who came afterward.

The success of the ISOC can be measured by the following facts. When it was born 10 years ago, ISOC got an appropriation of 13 million baht. There were three provinces in the Northeast within the communist control where CSOC operated at that time. Nowadays ISOC gets an appropriation of more than 800 million baht. And the communist-controlled areas have expanded over the kingdom today to approximately 30 provinces.

The communist-suppression operations of ISOC have been secretive. Some might actually be communist-suppression operations. Many, however, were not, even before 1973. There have always been cases such as the Red Tanks at Pattalung Province and others. Ordinary villagers everywhere have been bullied, and blamed as communists. Everywhere, suppression has brought troubles to the people in general. Those who could no longer endure such cruelty went into the forests to join the communist movement in large numbers.

In the annual budget sessions considering the ISOC budgets, the democratic parliaments in 1974, 1975, 1976 have been trying to cut down the proposed amounts, at least to make them public instead of remaining secret. There were just a few parliamentarian successes. The ISOC has been able to spend almost 100 million baht in secret anyway. The appropriations have been used against the democratic system all this time.

22.

Nawapol is an offshoot of ISOC. It is similar to the Red Gaur, but it is a psychological-warfare unit. Its important tools are not weapons; its mission is to cooperate with and to support the Red Gaur. The organization has been attempting to rally merchants, capitalists, and monks who do not wish to see social change or development against the students' and workers' movements. Its method is to convince the privileged that even a small change in the direction of democracy would deprive them of privilege and possessions. The tools of the Nawapol are conferences, rallies, articles, etc... Mr. Vattama Kiewvimol, the Nawapol Director was the person whom Gen. Salyud asked to come back from America to join ISOC. There were some people such as Sod Luramarohid who misunderstood that Nawapol would build a new society through cooperatives. They were disappointed; although Nawapol declared that it wanted to build a new society, in reality it wanted to preserve old conditions for the benefits of the capitalists and warlords.

23.

The Village Scouts were set up with the declared purpose of being non-political. But actually they have been the political tools of the capitalist and warlord groups. Their true nature was apparent in the April 1976 election. The Village Scouts played a role in enticing their own members and villagers to cast biased votes in the election. This was the method the Americans had used in Viet Nam, but without success. The method, assisted by lies, again became unsuccessful in Thailand. The overall organization claims loyalty to the Nation, Religion, and the King. The Ministry of Interior plays an important role to organize the Village Scouts. Usually the organization is financially sponsored by wealthy merchants who are heads of Scouts. The political rally of the Village Scouts on October 6 was a clear evidence to the purpose of this organization.

24.

Aside from the Red Gaur, Nawapol, and Village Scouts, ISOC and the Ministry of the Interior also use many other groups with different names. Some are affiliated with or are the guises of the Red Gaur or Nawapol, such as the Thai Bats, Housewives' Club, Thailand’s Protectors, etc... The operational tools of these organizations are, for example, anonymous cards, leaflets, flyers, and phone threats.

25.

Political assassinations have began in 1974. Peasants' and workers' representatives were ambushed one by one. Students such as Amares [one of the NSCT leaders -- translator] and politicians such as Professor Boonsanong Boonyothayan [Secratary General of the the Socialist Party of Thailand - translator] became the following victims. Each time the police could not find the murderers. It is very likely that the police took part in each murder, for whenever someone injured the policeman, or rightist politician, he would be brought under custody in a short time by the police.

26.

When Kukrit Pramoj was the Prime Minister, mass media such as the press, radio, and television had already begun to be supervised by Major Gen. Praman Adireksarn, Deputy Prime Minister and the head of the Thai Nation Party. Those who had access to the radio and television stations must be his men. If not, they would not be allowed to speak. And those on the air were required to slander the students, workers, peasants, university professors. The regular announcers were Dusit Siriwan, Prayat Sor Nakanat, Thanin Kraivixien, Utis Naksawat, Tomyuntee, Akom Mokranon, Lieutenant General Utarn Sanitvong, etc... This kind of supervision is still effective at the present time.

27.

The majority of the students have sincere and innocent aspirations. They want democracy. They want to help poor people and rectify social injustice. Therefore, the students' movement is an important force for democracy, and the accusation that the students are destroying the nation is a slanderous accusation in order to destroy that important force. But in the objective conditions during 1975-1976, the students have not changed their approach from that of October 1973. After the success of 1973, a lot of politicians fawned over the students. They encouraged the students to go into the countryside to “teach democracy”. In this world, no one can teach democracy! And the students were arrogant. When they went into the countryside they created enemies all over. They denounced officials, rich merchants, and others. Afterwards, the students thought their power was sufficient to oppose the newly formed organizations of ISOC, the Ministry of the Interior, capitalists, and the warlords. They took up every single issue and make a big thing of it. Their overreaching exhausted the people. For example, whenever and wherever there was a rally, there must be a scolding against any government in power. In the military withdrawal issue there were ceaseless rallies, even though the government had promised the deadline for withdrawal. Their exhibitions only boasted of the success in the communist countries, for example. The students showed no considerations toward Thammasat University. They made use of the university too often and, instead of broadening the students' base further, they exposed it alone to danger. The administration of Thammasat University conflicted most often with the students. But the most important point I want to make is that the National Student Center insisted on using the same old method instead of adapting as times changed. Instead of seeking popularity among the people, the students thought that the people would side with them forever. Instead of strengthening their own force, they became weaker.

RECTORS AND RECTOR'S CONFERENCE

28.

When the news spread that Field Marshal Thanom would return to Thailand, I recalled the lesson from the time Field Marshal Prapas returned in August [of 1975?], I knew the univeristies would be affected. So I called a conference of the rectors at the State University Bureau. The Minister concurred, and in September the rectors' conference passed a resolution asking the government to try in every way to prevent Thanom's return to Thailand. His return would bring a lot of troubles to the academic circle. Academic pursuits would be disrupted. At the same time, there were inter agreements among the universities that if Thanom really should come back, each university would decide itself whether it should close or remain open. The universities had laid down various joint measures.

29.

When Thanom really did return on September 19 I, as the president of the 1976 rectors' conference, immediately reconvened the conference on Sepetmeber 20. The State University Minister also attended. The conference called for the Government to take an emergency action concerning Thanom. It demanded to know that the Government would decisively explain itself to students in each university. This was to alleviate problems that might arise among students. The Government, however, did not make any decision. Its announcement hade no meaning. Later there were two more rectors' conferences. Each time the Government gave no definite answer. Dr. Nipon Sanitorn the State University Minister, tried his best and had sympathy towards all the rectors in this particular case. But he also failed to get any clear reaction from the cabinet and the Prime Minister.

30.

On Monday night October 4, when students and other people broke into Thammasat, the Administration of Thammasat University declared the university to be closed, as already mentioned in No.11. This declaration was according to the agreement in the rectors' conference.

On Tuesday night October 5, I talked on the phone with Prime Minister Seni Pramoj at 11:00 PM. I asked him to appoint someone authoritative to negotiate with the students inside Thammasat. In the past, the Government had acted the host; the Prime Minister received students who wanted to see him. I proposed that the appointment of a representative from the Prime Minister to negotiate with the students would facilitate the disintegration of the rally. The Prime Minister replied that he must first consult his cabinet.

Afterward, I took off the phone - until dawn. That night, there had been many phone calls threatening me.

At dawn the tragedy occurred.

31.

There had been an agreement that Thammasat University’s Council Conference would be held at 10:00 AM on October 6. The conference was presided by Dr. Prakop Hutasing, the President of the University Congress. At the end of the conference, I announced my resignation as rector of Thammasat University. I could no longer remain the rector, I claimed, because many students and policemen had already been killed. The University Council expressed concerns over the rector’s personal safety.

32.

In the afternoon, there were many friends and professors advising me to leave Thailand. The Armored Brigade Radio, and leaflets by now had been inciting the throng to lynch the rector of Thammasat as the villain who instigated students against the institution of the monarchy. I resolved then that it was no use to stay on, ducking from the coming bullets and hiding. I decided to go to Kuala Lumpur to wait and see how the situation developed; at that time, there was still no coup d'état.

33.

The plane to Kuala Lumpur would leave at 6:35 PM. I arrived at Don Mueang Airport shortly before the departure time. The plane was delayed for one hour, so I waited in the lounge for the departing passengers.

Soon someone saw me, and went to report to the Armored Brigade Radio. The Armored Brigade Radio then broadcast a call for my arrest. It ordered the Village Scouts to gather at the Don Mueang Airport in order to prevent my leaving.

At around 6:45 PM, a police lieutenant colonel walked toward me. He seized me while I was talking on the phone. With a very rude manner, he slapped the earphone, which dropped from my hand. He scolded me and said he wanted to seize me and take me to the Police Chief. I did not reply, but followed him outside.

The Air Force military police and the custom police officers gave their opinion that I should not be taken out through the entrance of the lounge for the departing passengers. There were herds of Village Scouts outside; I might get hurt. Therefore the officers asked for the permission of the Air Force to take me out through its golf course.

While waiting for permission, the police took me to the custom room at the entrance of the arrival passengers. They confined me there.

34.

While in confinement, the police from the crime suppression division searched me, but didn't find any weapons. They took one notebook from me. They also took from me a Father Brown, by GK Chesterton, which I was reading. My bags were thoroughly searched.

35.

While I was waiting an hour for the order of my arrest, I had already learned that the coup had happened. I was then worryied about friends who might be falsely accused and in danger. As for myself, I desperately resolved that even if I could save my own life, I would have been injured.

At about 8:00 PM, the police informed me that 'words from above' had ordered my release. Officers were told to arrange a plane for me to go abroad. At that time, the plane to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore had already left. The only planes remaining were those going to Europe and Japan. I decide to go to Europe.

The police officer who had taken my notebook returned it to me. I thanked him and told him that he had committed a grave sin, for I was innocent. That police officer retorted that three arrested students mentioned me as a stage manager of the hanging play intended to destroy the King, on Monday October 4. He also added that the students who accused me had their stomachs burnt with fire by the Red Gaur members. They then “confessed” and incriminated me.

36.

While we sat, waiting for further orders, two female instructors at Thammasa, members of Nawapol, came in and sat near me, as though wanting to mock me. But I didn't acknowledge either of them. I think they were instructors Ratri and Nadda. A little while later, Mr. Vattana Khieuvimol entered the room where I was being confined. I had known him before he greeted me. I returned his greeting. I then turned to the officer who helped me buy a plane ticket. Mr. Vattana stayed for awhile, and walked out.

THE COUP D'ÉTAT

37.

The Junta called themselves “The National Administrative Reform Council” in order to differentiate themselves from the “coups” by Field Marshal Sarit and Thanom in the past. Coups 'irritate' the people. But the seizure of power this time was nothing else but another coup, staged by a group of soldiers with a few civilians as their accomplices.

It was a coup because

  1. the constitution was abolished,
  2. the parliament was abolished,
  3. the government was abolished, all illegally,
  4. the orders of the “NARC” leaders have become the law of the land, and
  5. countless fo their political opponents have been arrested based solely on their 'authority'.

There were, and are, still other characteristics similar to the past coups.

38.

There was evidence showing that two cliques wanted to coup d'état. The clique that did make the coup d'état at 6:00 PM on October 6 took a preventive measure against the other clique. This must be true, for Gen. Chalas Nerunsiri, the likely, alternate coup-maker was dismissed. Like Thanom, he entered the monkhood at Bowornnives Temple (No one now remembers what Bowornnives Temple was like in the past.) And Lieut. Gen. Vitoon Yaswat received an urgent order to go to Japan for a civilian post.

Nonetheless, a coup d'état had already taken place.

39.

According to coup d'état custom evolved in Thailand over the past 20 years, the Junta in power arranged for a three-stage rule:

  1. In the first stage right after the coup, the Constitution and Parliament were abolished. Ministers and political opponents were arrested. The chiefs, those of lesser importance, various advisers such as foreign affairs, economy, etc... were appointed. Under-secretaries were allowed to do the duties of ministers. Many statements and orders were issued, etc... This was the most dictatorial period.
  2. The second stage had an administrative constitution. A cabinet and an assembly were appointed. The assembly would legislate laws, but the Junta still controlled both the appointed cabinet and assembly. The dictatorship was still obvious.
  3. The third stage was the period after the appointed assembly had finished drafting the new constitution. There would be representative elections. The Junta would run the elections to complement its interests.

The duration of each stage would depend on the Junta head. For example, Marshal Sarit spent more than ten years for his second-stage rule.

40.

In the present coup d'état, the first stage lasted from October 6 to October 22. Since then, we have entered the second stage. Prime Minister Thanin Kraivixien elaborated that the second stage would last four years and the third stage would be divided into two parts, of four years each. He would hold power in his hands in the first part of the third stage “in order to give time to the Thai people to learn how to use their rights in the democratic system”.

41.

The present coup d'état differs in three ways from previous coups.

  1. The head of the Junta did not become Prime Minister himself. Instead he appointed a civilian to be the Prime Minister 14 days in advance.
  2. According to the administrative constitution declared effective on October 22 1976 (they called it a Constitution), the Prime Minister and the cabinet have diminished executive liberty, because there is already an advisory council (all soldiers) above their heads. And
  3. there are more opportunities to lie in practice than the past.

42.

In each coup d'état in Thailand, the head of the Junta was an army man. This time, the head is a navy man, and his deputy is an air force man. Admiral Sa-ngad Chaloryu is understood to be a mere figurehead. His habit, character, and personality would never have enabled him to make a coup by himself. The appointment of a civilian instead of himself to be the Prime Minister creates even more perplexity. The much discussed question is who is behind this coup. The seizure of power was done in a very short time, as though there might have been a predetermined plan. But the coup was effected on October 6 right after the homicides inside Thammasat.

It wasn't Gen. Chad’s clique. It wasn't Lieut. Gen. Vitoon’s clique. Field Marshal Thanom had not come out to play an active role, and he wasn't likely to come out.

Who else could it be? Hopefully, historians will be able to fill this gap in the future.

43.

Article 21 of the October 22 Constitution, which was developed from the old administrative constitution, gave broad power to the Prime Minister. For example. he has judicial power, and can punish anybody according to his whim. There is the advisory council controlling the Prime Minister and the cabinet (Article 18 and Article 21). The advisory council is none other than “The National Administrative Reform Council” : the clique of soldiers and one policeman who took power on October 6 1976.

44.

Article 8 of the “constitution” concerning rights and freedoms of persons has only one sentence : “All persons shall have their rights and freedoms under provisions of the law.” And we know who made the law.

Moreover, in past practice the people would never have any rights to know any truth, except for the “facts” the Government permitted them to know. The “The National Administrative Reform Council” has set up two committees.

One committee decides whether to permit a newspaper to be printed.

Another committee censors the printed newspapers.

The persons who were appointed to serve on both committees are experts in speaking and writing lies. And the newspapers which got permission to be distributed since October 8, 1976 are all expert in telling lies. Therefore, now and into the future as far as the eye can see the majority of newspapers in Thailand possess the criteria of being habitual liars. One should not believe any of them.

For example, Dao Siam (Star of Siam) reported that the police were after Mr. Kamsing Srinok. The military then gave evidences accusing Kamsing (a famous writer), Tuey (the author), Saneh, and Sulak (the latter two are leading intellectuals) of attending a conference with the KGB at Korat in order to destroy the Nation, Religion, and the King. The paper printed a group picture. There was a caucasian in the picture. He was accused to be a KGB agent (USSR). As a matter of fact, the group picture was taken at Nam Phong Dam. The conference concerned the construction of the Pa Mong Dam. Those who attended the conference, besides university professors, villagers, central and local officials, there were also representatives from the production division of the state-owned Electrical Services Department. The man whom Dao Siam claimed to be a KGB agent was in fact Mr. Stewart Meacham, an American Quaker. At that time he was the director of the Quakers' Seminar in Singapore. By now he is back in the United States.

The lies these newspapers have been telling have been regularly publicised ever since 1974.

Radio and TV stations have been telling similar lies always as usual. Between the night of October 5 and 6, Radio and TV Thailand (Tor Tor Tor) had been trying to present news of the rally on a neutral ground. But the Armored Brigade Radio was dissatisfied that Radio Thailand was presenting the truth, and thus disrupting its plan for mass incitement. Therefore it denounced Radio and TV Thailand until dawn of the next day. When the coup took place, the Junta dismissed two responsible personnel from their posts in Radio and TV Thailand without reason.

We end up not being able to find any truth in any newspapers or radio or TV stations. Even news concerningwhom the police or military have arrested, who have gone across the border to Laos, or who does what, where, and what do people say... all are fed by the Government.

THE CABINET OF OCTOBER 22 1976

45.

In performing his official duty, Prime Minister Thanin Kraivixien is a clean-cut man. The “Nation, Religion, and the King” is his favorite slogan on radio and TV presentations. He wrote and taught extensively of communist suppression. People call him an “right-wing extremeist”.

When he was young, after freshly returning from studying in England, Mr. Thanin loved to write. He has written on many topics out of the wish to see changes in Thai society. At that time, judges' circle accused Mr. Thanin of being a communist. His endless reactions against communists may be for this reason.

Mr. Thanin is very well-educated, intelligent, and knows himself to be smart and capable. The problem is how long the Prime Minister can endure the advisory council over his head, especially when the members of the advisory council side with the corrupt or are themselves corrupt.

46.

In the cabinet, the military reserves 3 seats: 1 Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, 1 Deputy Minister of Defense. There is no need to say more about these three posts.

The Minister of Interior well deserves his office being labelled the Mafia Ministry.

There are ministers who are bureaucrats. The 7 bureaucrats appointed ministers were not ranked as high as under-secretaries. There are 2 Deputies to the Prime Minister, Deputy of Interior, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Justice, Education, Health.

The 2nd Deputy to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice are personal friends of the Prime Minister. The Minister of Treasury was chosen from the chairman of the budget-inspection committee. The Minister of Agriculture is a 77 year-old pensioned official. The Minister of Industry is a pensioned air-force officer. The Communication Minister was originally the owner of the White Bus Company. These four persons perform their duties according to the wish of the advisory committee to the Prime Minister. I have been informed that the Prime Minister had approached others, but had been refused by many.

The Minister of the State University Bureau is a woman. She is quite expert at writing obscene novels and cursing university students, however she is also the one who unceasingly praises the Nation, Religion, and the King.

The Minister of the Prime Minister's Office is an expert in telling lies. The lies he told carried him up to high positions.

Others are also experts at telling lies, but unfortunately they have not obtained high positions. They are Dr. Utis Naksawat, Akom Mokkaranon, Prayat Sor Nakanat, and many of his friends who are journalists, radio, and TV announcers.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?

48.

I have given an interview to newspapers in September which someone republished in the Fareastern Economic Review. The content states that if another coup happened in Thailand, many students, professors, politicians, workers, and peasants would flee into the forests to join the communists (even though they were not communists). From what I have heard during these past 20 days, this prediction seems to have come true. Especially when something as disastrous as has happened in Thammasat spreads out, impacting other, outer circles, this prediction becomes even more true...

49.

It is a pity that what had happened on October 6 1976 left no third alternative to young men and women. If they are not to become passive, to follow along with unjust power, they have to go into the forests to work with the Communists. Whoever is interested in a peaceful way, in democracy, and in freedom must start from the beginning in order to pioneer the path for the next generations.

50.

As I have mentioned at first, many soldiers are still divided and competing for another coup. This condition will remain so; although one influential person sought refuge in the monkhood, and the other went to Japan. How can the “unity” among the soldiers be achieved? To the military unity means “national unity”. It is worth pondering that Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn’s role is still potential. He might even leave the monkhood to serve the country, to create the unity as has happened many times in the Thai history in the Ayudhya period, such as is the reign of Pra Maha Thamaraja. What about Field Marshal Prapas Charusathira? What about Colonel Narong Kittickachorn?

51.

Whatever happens in politics, it is clear that the project to build the three-stage democracy within 12 years of Mr. Thanin Kraivixien and his gang will not work out as planned. There are many, many “enemies” against the Government. Anything can happen, and the existing conditions favor 'anything' to happen. The obvious facts are that basic freedoms will be mutilated, rights of workers and peasants will be diminished, and ordinary citizens will have a lot of troubles to face.

52.

When the workers have no rights to argue with employers, when every single kind of rural development becomes “mass agitation”, when land reforms become socialism, when rice prices are held down, when no representative exists to voice the people’s opinion, when the nation’s rulers are capitalists and warlords, then the national development will remain the same as the system used in 1973. Therefore one can guess that eonomic crisis will deepen more and more for the people. The gap between the rich and the poor will widen. The countryside and urban slums will more and more be neglected. Those already rich, in Bangkok and other major cities, will get even richer. For them, life will be increasingly luxurious.

Educational reforms, the spread of health care into the countryside, and the spread of local administrative authority, however, will be stopped short. Social problems of Thailand will become more violent.

53.

In the field of foreign relations, America will play more of a role in Thailand. It will use us as a spearhead to fight against our own communist neighbors. Various ASEAN countries will be very glad, for they gain a new fellow-dictatorial member. Thailand will also be the first buffer zone for them in fighting 'the Communist'.

Because of our disharmonious relations with our communist neighbors, the Thai government is likely to have problems within. One can observe the dismissals of the Under-secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Director General of the Political Department. It is likely that the military dislikes the neutralized relations with Viet Nam, Kampuchea, and Laos. They were accused of collaborating with the former Foreign Minister. The “suppression” against Vienamese refugees will go on. Quarrels with Laos and Kampuchea concerning borders and other issues are easy to find. The problems will grow more serious. The question is whether such quarrels will be confined only among small countries, or they will be expanded, drawing in the superpowers.

54.

I feel that what I have written is sad, and mournful. The future is dark.

WHOEVER SEES LIGHT IN THE FUTURE, PLEASE TELL ME.

October 28, 1976

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A FEW WORDS ABOUT DR. PUEY UNGPAKORN:

Dr. Puey is one of the most thoughtful leaders in Thailand, simple, humble, unambitious, kind, and devotes his life in the service of the Thai people.

Dr. Puey has always been a firm opponent against dictatorship. Before October 14 1973, he was exiled by the three tyrants : Thanom, Prapas, Narong. From abroad, he consistently demanded the return of the constitution and democratic system to the Thai people.

During the World War II, the Japanese occupied Thailand. Dr. Puey joined the “Free Thai Movement”, using the name of “Kem Yen-ying”. He even risked his life parachuting for the first time in his life into Thailand from an Ally plane.

Dr. Puey served as the rector of Thammasat University in Bangkok until the bloody massacre of October 6 1976. He is now again an exile.

The present dictatorship of Thailand has not intimidated Dr. Puey in the least. He still stands firm to fight the enemy of the people and injustice.