Archiving the ignored 6 October Massacre

Archiving the ignored 6 October Massacre by Kornkritch Somjittranukit, 06/10/2017, Prachatai (English)

Entretien avec Puangthong Pawakapan

To break the taboo in Thai society surrounding the 1976 Massacre, a group of scholars have founded an online archive of the incident in the hope that Thai society will be able to learn from its bloody past.

In the early morning of 6 October 1976, Thai right-wing groups staged a massacre of students at Thammasat University. More than a hundred student activists were killed by military and paramilitary forces and right-wing mobs and over 3,000 were arrested allegedly for being communists and threatening Thailand’s monarchy.

Even though the incident occurred over 40 years ago, knowledge of the event is very limited, partly because it is a sensitive issue and the “Octobrists” (people who joined the student movements around 14 October 1971 and 6 October 1976) who survived the massacre have rarely talked about it in detail.

The incident shows that Thai society can be extremely brutal against those who think differently from the establishment. The fear of talking about the massacre is, therefore, strongly rooted in Thai society, preventing serious discussion and investigation of the incident.

But some have bitten the bullet. On 24 September 2017, the “Documentation of 6 Oct” project launched its website at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. The website is an online archive of material and information related to the massacre which has been largely ignored by Thai society.

The contents of the archive include documentary films, witness testimonies, photographs and interviews with massacre survivors and the families of those who were killed.

To commemorate the massacre, Prachatai interviewed Puangthong Pawakapan, the project coordinator. She hopes that this website will help Thai people to see a clearer picture of what actually happened on 6 October 1976.