Thai military bans speeches commemorating 1992 democratic uprising

The Thai military ordered the cancellation of public speeches by anti-military figures at an event to commemorate the democratic uprising of May 1992.    

According to Sripai Nontri, assistant manager of the Heroes of Democracy Foundation, a group of military officers on Saturday came to the Foundation’s office in Pak Kret District of Nonthaburi Province, north of Bangkok, at around 1 pm and ordered the foundation staff to cut planned speeches by pro-democracy speakers.

Thai military officers at the Heroes of Democracy Foundation office in a Bangkok suburb on 16 May 2015

Despite the military order to forbid the speeches, one of the speakers, Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, a well-known activist working on improving the lives of slum dwellers, maintained that the speech would still be a part of the event.

The speeches were scheduled as part of the commemoration of the popular democratic uprising on 17 May 1992, when people took to the streets to protest against Suchinda Kraprayoon, the then military dictator. 52 people were officially confirmed killed during the military crackdown on the protesters while about 3,500 were arrested and allegedly tortured.

The speeches were planned to be delivered on Sunday afternoon at the Oct 14 Memorial in central Bangkok. Other pro-democracy figures who were to deliver speeches include Chalard Worachat, an activist known for his hunger strike against the 1992 dictator, and Weng Tojirakarn, an anti-establishment red-shirt activist.

Last month, the Thai authorities forced the cancellation of an event to commemorate the death of Nuamthong Praiwan, a taxi driver who committed suicide in response to the 2006 coup d’état, which was organised by the Heroes of Democracy Foundation. The military reasoned that the event carried a political message.

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