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HomethailandgeneralPublic urged to learn from Oct 14 uprising

Public urged to learn from Oct 14 uprising

The government has urged Thais to learn from the Oct 14, 1973 student uprising about the importance of real democracy and contribute to the development of the political system.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the uprising on Saturday, House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha represented the government at a ceremony at the October 14 Memorial site on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, on behalf of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

“If those students and civilians had not risen [against dictatorship] and begun fighting for real democracy at the time, you and I and every other Thai would not have had the opportunity to have politics the way it is now,” he said.

On Oct 14, 1973, the first peaceful mass gathering of people fighting against dictatorship took place and the impact of the uprising has lasted five decades, he said.

The country has learned a great deal about democracy from the 1973 uprising over the past decades, despite a number of military coups, he said, adding that the sacrifice by those pro-democracy protesters marked the first chapter in Thai society’s democratic development.

While the 1973 protests against the dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn began peacefully, tensions ran high and eventually spiralled out of control on Oct 14, resulting in 77 deaths and more than 800 injuries. Thanom resigned that evening.

A woman places a garland on a wall at the 14 October 1973 Memorial commemorating those who were killed during the student uprising a half-century ago. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Mr Wan said he believed the real intention of the people who began fighting for democracy 50 years ago was for all Thais to learn from what happened in the country’s politics back then and keep contributing to the development of democracy.

Five decades have passed, but the loss of lives of those demonstrators and their bravery are still remembered, while lessons learned from the uprising continue to remind all Thais to be aware of the importance of democracy, said Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.

“They sacrificed their lives in the hope of bringing real democracy to Thailand. And I truly believe their sacrifice will pay off. We will be leading Thailand towards complete democracy,” he said.

Also present at the memorial ceremony were Wasan Paileeklee, a national human rights commissioner, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt and representatives of various pro-democracy groups, as well as relatives of those who died in 1973.

House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha represents the government and takes part in the ceremony held at the 14 October 1973 Memorial on Saturday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

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