vintage, nostalgia and memories


October 29, 2017

Blind Spot for Thais: Historic Photographs Captured the Horrors of the Thailand 1976 Massacre Anniversary

The Thammasat University massacre was an attack by Thai state forces and far-right paramilitaries on student protesters on the campus of Thammasat University and the adjacent Sanam Luang Square in Bangkok, Thailand, on 6 October 1976. Prior to the massacre, four to five thousand students from various universities had demonstrated for more than a week against the return of former military dictator Thanom Kittikachorn to Thailand from Singapore.

A day before the massacre, the Thai press reported on a play staged by student protesters the previous day, which allegedly featured the mock hanging of then Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. In response to this rumored outrage, military and police, as well as paramilitary forces surrounded the university. Just before dawn on 6 October, the attack on the student protesters began and continued until noon. To this day, the number of casualties remains in dispute between the Thai government and survivors of the massacre. According to the government, 46 died in the killings, with 167 wounded and 3,000 arrested. Many survivors claim that the death toll was well over 100.

Associated Press photographer Neal Ulevich won the Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the suppression of a left-wing student protest at Bangkok's Thammasat University on Oct. 6, 1976, and the brutal lynchings in its wake. Ulevich, then 30, arrived as a night of tension at the campus broke into a full-scale assault by paramilitary police on thousands of trapped and defenseless students.

After winning the Pulitzer, he said his happiness "must be tempered with grim memories of the day. If there is any value in the pictures it is that they may have made some people pause and think about the wider issues such as hatred and violence."

In this October 6, 1976 file photo blood streaming down his face, a leftist student, center, wounded and captured by police is helped to an ambulance at the Thammasat University campus in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo a captured and wounded leftist student is taken by police to an ambulance in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo a right-wing student, center foreground, draws his arm back to strike a captured and wounded leftist student being taken by police to an ambulance in Bangkok, Thailand. For some Thais, the bloody events of October 6, 1976 are still a nightmare. On that day, heavily armed security forces shot up Bangkok's Thammasat University campus and killed scores of students, while right-wing vigilantes captured would-be escapees, subjecting them to ghoulish lynchings. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo, a wounded man is carried to an ambulance as authorities and leftist students trade fire on Thammasat University campus in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo a member of a Thai political faction strikes at the lifeless body of a hanged student outside Thammasat University in Bangkok Oct. 6, 1976. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo a member of a Thai political faction strikes at the lifeless body of a hanged student outside Thammasat University in Bangkok Oct. 6, 1976. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo a policeman kicks a leftist student who surrendered moments before as police moved in on Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo right-wing Thai students kick and beat a leftist student who surrendered after a battle on the campus of Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo, police stand guard over leftist Thai students on a soccer field at Thammasat University, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Gary Mangkorn/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976, file photo, police fire a shell as they storm the walls of Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo leftist students who surrendered to police lie on the ground of the soccer field at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, awaiting orders from their captors. (Photo by Neal Ulevich/AP Photo)

In this October 6, 1976 file photo a wounded student is taken to an ambulance after he was injured in the fighting at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Gary Mangkorn/AP Photo)



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