12th anniversary of Red Shirt crackdown remembered

On Sunday (10 April), a memorial event took place at the 14 October 1973 Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Road in memory of those who died during the 10 April 2010 crackdown on Red Shirt protests, during which the military deployed live rounds against protesters gathering in the Ratchadamnoen area, resulting in the death of 26 people.

People gathered at the 14 October 1973 Memorial on Ratchadamneon Road to remember those who died during the 10 April 2010 crackdown on Red Shirt protests

The 10 April 2010 crackdown was the first in a series of military operations against Red Shirt protesters, who were protesting against the government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva. It was followed by further operations culminating on 19 May 2010. Between 10 April - 19 May 2010, 99 people died and over 1200 were injured.

The 12th anniversary memorial event started with a religious ceremony at 13.00, which was then followed by speeches from former leaders of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), including Thida Thavornseth, Weng Tojirakarn, Chaturon Chaisaeng and Nattawut Saikua.

The event was attended by former Red Shirt protesters, young activists, and members of political parties. Wreaths from various activist groups and student organizations were also placed in front of the stage.

Former UDD leader Nattawut Saikua giving a speech at the memorial event, vowing to stand with young people

Taxi driver Paisan Junpan was among the Red Shirt protesters on 10 April 2010. He said he came to the memorial event to remember those who were killed during the crackdowns, and to honour people who are still alive and are still fighting for freedom.

“I want to say that we are still fighting to bring about an ideal society, a democratic society in our country,” he said.

Paisan said the situation in 2010 was depressing. He said he was tired and felt that there was nothing they could do. Several people he knew were also killed during the 10 April 2010 and 19 May 2010 crackdowns, including a co-worker and a friend’s brother.

He said that those in power are trying to make people forget about the crackdowns and to make it seem like Red Shirt protesters were not killed by state officials. Even though investigations into the crackdowns showed that the bullets that killed the protesters came from state weapons, the authorities have not owned up to the violence they committed against the Red Shirts.

Those responsible for the death of the Red Shirt protesters have not been brought to justice, Paisan said. Nevertheless, he notes that people, especially the younger generation, are becoming more aware of what happened 12 years ago.

Student activist Parit Chiwarak kneeling in front of wreaths sent by Red Shirt groups, activists, and young activist groups and student organizations in memory of those who died on 10 April 2010.

Fa (pseudonym), 19, was also at Sunday’s event. She said she was 7 years old when the 10 April 2010 crackdown took place. Her parents were Red Shirts, but they have never taken her to protests because they thought it was dangerous.

She said that she learned about the crackdowns from Twitter, and that she saw a video clip of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol being shot, and found it upsetting.

“No one should be killed like this. You say this is a Buddhist country, but you killed without mercy. It’s not okay,” she said.

Fah said that the authorities should listen to the people instead of using violence against them, and that, in a democracy, everyone should have the right to speak out, but the authorities are acting like there are things Thai people are not allowed to talk about.

She was at the Pathumwan intersection when crowd control police deployed water cannon against protesters there on 16 October 2020, but said she did not think that there would be any violence since the protests had never been violent before and there were a lot of children at the protest. She said that it is similar to the 10 April 2010 crackdown in the sense that the authorities used violence against people who were voicing their demands. 

“I want them to believe that we the people can say anything, because it everyone’s right and freedom to speak, but when you speak out, you get killed,” she said.

Roses were placed at Khok Wua Intersection in memory of those killed there

Nop (pseudonym), 17, is a Thalugaz protester attending the memorial event. He said he was 3–4 years old in 2010, and that his parents were at the Democracy Monument during the night of 10 April 2010. His parents told him that live rounds and tear gas were used against the Red Shirt protesters, and when he started joining protests, they were concerned that he would be arrested but they support him nonetheless.

Nop said that he found it unacceptable that the authorities used violence against Red Shirt protesters and said that what the young people in the 2020–2022 pro-democracy protests have in common with the Red Shirts is that they all want democracy.

After the conclusion of the event at the 14 October 1973 Memorial, roses were placed at Khok Wua intersection in memory of the protesters killed there.

The performing arts network RasaDrum and a group of activists also staged a short performance in memory of those who lost their lives during the crackdowns.

Protesters then marched to the nearby Democracy Monument for more speeches and activities. They also burned a mock coffin on which they attached images of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Gallery

Student activist Parit Chiwarak and other participants at the memorial event flashing the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute before the conclusion of the event

Performance by RasaDrum

Activist Tantawan Tuatulanon participating in RasaDrum's performance

Performance by RasaDrum and young activists

Another group of protesters staged a motorcycle caravan starting from the Ratchaprasong Intersection to Ratchadamneon Road (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Protesters forming a caravan to head to the Democracy Monument after the end of the memorial event at the 14 October 1973 Memorial (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Protesters marching to the Democracy Monument

Protesters burned a mock coffin with pictures of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha (Photo by Ginger Cat)

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