The gathering, calling themselves the ‘Phuket Liberation Group’, stood in front of the Mingmongkol Statue (Dragon Statue) and observed a minute’s silence at 6:10pm.
They then lit a candle for each of the protesters killed in the violent crackdown by the Thai Army 45 years ago, then read a poem to honour the lives lost and read out loud the names of those killed in the massacre.
The remembrance, which took about 20 minutes to complete, was held under watch by officers from Phuket City Police, Phuket Provincial Police, Region 8 Police and internal security agencies in Phuket.
After completing their remembrance ceremony, the group disbanded peacefully.
Larger activities to remember the 1976 massacre were held in Bangkok, where activists and members of the victims’ families gathered at the memorial at Thammasat University to pay their respects, reported the Bangkok Post.
Speakers at the event noted that little had changed in the 45 years since students and activists were massacred by the military and rightwing radicals at Thammasat University, sending many survivors fleeing into the jungle where they took up arms against the authoritarian government.
Those killed in the 1976 massacre were protesting the return to Thailand of former dictator Field Marsahll Thanom Kittikachorn. Official reports state that 46 were killed (both sides) and 167 were wounded, while unofficial reports state that more than 100 demonstrators were killed.
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limcharoenrat yesterday said the government’s use of violence and legal action against young protesters and activists reflected the reality ‒ that political differences remain a thorny issue never accepted by the state, said the Bangkok Post report.
The state had never been open to changes and showed no compromise in dealing with people holding different political opinions, he said.
Young protesters calling themselves Thalugaz hold almost daily rallies in Din Daeng area calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha that always end in clashes with riot police.
Another newly emerging rally site is Nang Leong intersection, where another group, Thalufah, holds sporadic rallies with the same goal, he said.
The Move Forward leader was among the politicians, activists and family who attended the service at Thammasat University in remembrance of those killed by security forces and right-wing radicals during the massacre on Oct 6, 1976.
The mass killing ‒ the exact number of victims is still not known ‒ compelled many students to flee to the mountains, where they joined the since disbanded Communist Party of Thailand in an armed fight against the government.
The Thalufah group said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that they would never forget the events of Oct 6 1976, and said violent means were unacceptable today.
Red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar said students continued to fight for democracy 45 years later, with the country still divided with no political solution to the problem.
He said a bigger rally would be called after the COVID-19 situation eased, but he did not expect it would convince Gen Prayut to resign. The rally would be aimed at exposing the failed policies and actions of the government to the public, he said.
The gathering at the October 6 memorial started in the morning with religious ceremonies and laying of wreaths and flowers in remembrance of those killed and injured. Speakers addressed the people afterwards.
Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub