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The 14th October Uprising

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The 14th October uprising The military domination of Thai politics, started soon after the 1932 revolution, but its consolidation of power came with the Sarit military coup in 1957. The economic development during the years of military dictatorship in the 1950s and 1960s took place in the context of a world economic boom and a localised economic boom created by the Korean and Vietnam wars. This economic growth had a profound impact on the nature of Thai society. Naturally the size of the working class increased as factories and businesses were developed. However, under the dictatorship trade union rights were suppressed and wages and conditions of employment were tightly controlled. By early 1973 the minimum daily wage, fixed at around 10 baht since the early 1950s, remained unchanged while commodity prices had risen by 50%. Illegal strikes had already occurred throughout the period of dictatorship, but strikes increased rapidly due to general economic discontent. The first nine months of 1973, before the 14th October, saw a total of 40 strikes, and a one-month strike at the Thai Steel Company resulted in victory due to a high level of solidarity from other workers. Economic development also resulted in a massive expansion of student numbers and an increased intake of students from working-class backgrounds. The building of the Ramkamhaeng Open University in 1969 was a significant factor here. Student numbers in higher education increased from 15,000 in 1961 to 50,000 by 1972. The new generation of students, in the early 1970s, were influenced by the revolts and revolutions which occurred throughout the world in that period, May 1968 in Paris, being a prime example. Before that, in 1966 the radical journal, Social Science Review, was established by progressive intellectuals. Students started to attend volunteer development camps in the countryside in order to learn about the problems of rural poverty. By 1971 3500 students had attended a total of 64 camps. In 1972 a movement to boycott Japanese goods was organised as part of the struggle against foreign domination of the economy. Students also agitated against increases in Bangkok bus fares. In June 1973 the rector of Ramkamhaeng University was forced to resign after attempting to expel a student for writing a pamphlet criticising the military dictatorship[22]. Four months later, the arrest of 11 academics and students for handing out leaflets demanding a democratic constitution resulted in hundreds of thousands of students and workers taking to the streets of Bangkok. As troops with tanks fired on unarmed demonstrators, the people of Bangkok began to fight back. Bus passengers spontaneously alighted from their vehicles to join the demonstrators. Government buildings were set on fire. The “Yellow Tigers”, a militant group of students, sent a jet of high-octane gasoline from a captured fire engine into the police station at Parn-Fa bridge, setting it on fire. Earlier they had been fired upon by the police. The successful 14th October 1973 mass uprising against the military dictatorship shook the Thai ruling class to its foundations. For the next few days, there was a strange new atmosphere in Bangkok. Uniformed officers of the state disappeared from the streets and ordinary people organised themselves to clean up the city. Boy Scouts directed traffic. It was the first time that the pu-noi (little people) had actually started a revolution from below. It was not planned and those that took part had a multiplicity of ideals about what kind of democracy and society they wanted. But the Thai ruling class could not shoot enough demonstrators to protect their regime. It was not just a student uprising to demand a democratic constitution. It involved thousands of ordinary working-class people and occurred on the crest of a rising wave of workers’ strikes. Success in overthrowing the military dictatorship bred increased confidence. Workers, peasants and students began to fight for more than just parliamentary democracy. In the two months following the uprising, the new royal appointed civilian government of Sanya Tammasak faced a total of 300 workers’ strikes. A central trade union federation was formed. New radical student bodies sprang up. On the 1st May 1975 a quarter of a million workers rallied in Bangkok and a year later half a million workers took part in a general strike against price increases. In the countryside small farmers began to build organisations and they came to Bangkok to make their voices heard. Workers and peasants wanted social justice and an end to long-held privileges. A triple alliance between students, workers and small farmers was created. Some activists wanted an end to exploitation and capitalism itself. The influence of the CPT increased rapidly, especially among activists in urban areas. As part of the political reform process, in December 1973, the king presided over a hand-picked National Forum (often referred to as the “horse track assembly”, due to its location). This forum, which had members chosen from various professions, was tasked with selecting a new parliament. Kukrit Pramote was chosen as the chairperson of the new parliament when it opened on the 28th December, while Sanya Tammasak remained prime minister. However, this parliament and the Sanya government could not solve the increasing tensions in society between the conservatives and the left or between the rich and the poor[23]. The first democratic elections, since the October 1973 uprising, were held in January 1975. Parliament had a left colouring and government policies reflected a need to deal with pressing social issues. Left-wing parties, such as the New Force Party, the Socialist Party of Thailand and the Socialist Front Party gained 37 seats (out of a total of 269) but did not join any coalition governments. The first coalition government, made up of the Democrat Party and the Social Agriculture Party, was established under Seni Pramote. This right-leaning government announced that it would follow “social democratic” policies. However, the government lost a vote of no confidence in parliament in March 1975 and was replaced by a new coalition government headed by Kukrit Pramote from the Social Action Party. The new government introduced a number of pro-poor policies, including job creation schemes. This government presided over a period of increasing social tensions. Strikes, demonstrations and political assassinations occurred on a regular basis. Eventually parliament was dissolved in January 1976 and elections held in April. The April elections resulted in a swing to the right. This was due to a combination of factors, such as intimidation of the left and a right-ward shift among the middle classes who were afraid of radicalism.

The 1973 democracy movement Student demonstrations had started in 1968 and grew in size and numbers in the early 1970s despite the continued ban on political meetings. In June 1973, nine Ramkhamhaeng University students were expelled for publishing an article in a student newspaper that was critical of the government. Shortly after, thousands of students held a protest at the Democracy Monument demanding the re-enrolment of the nine students. The government ordered the universities to shut, but shortly afterwards allowed the students to be re-enrolled. In October another 13 students were arrested on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government. This time the student protesters were joined by workers, businessmen and other ordinary citizens. The demonstrations swelled to several hundred thousand and the issue broadened from the release of the arrested students to demands for a new constitution and the replacement of the current government. On October 13, the government released the detainees. Leaders of the demonstrations, among them Seksan Prasertkul, called off the march in accordance with the wishes of the King who was publicly against the democracy movement. In a speech to graduating students, he criticized the pro-democracy movement by telling students to concentrate on their studies and leave politics to their elders [military government]. As the crowds were breaking up the next day, on October 14, many students found themselves unable to leave because the police had attempted to control the flow of the crowd by blocking the southern route to Rajavithi Road. Cornered and overwhelmed by the hostile crowd, the police responded with teargas and gunfire.

The military was called in, and tanks rolled down Rajdamnoen Avenue and helicopters fired down at Thammasat University. A number of students commandeered buses and fire engines in an attempt to halt the progress of the tanks by ramming into them. With chaos on the streets, King Bhumibol opened the gates of Chitralada Palace to the students who were being gunned down by the army. Despite orders from Thanom that the military action be intensified, army commander Kris Sivara had the army withdrawn from the streets. The King condemned the government's inability to handle the demonstrations, ordered Thanom, Praphas, and Narong to leave the country, and notably condemned the students' supposed role as well. At 06:10PM, Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn resigned from his post as Prime Minister. An hour later, the King appeared on national television, asking for calm, and announcing that Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn had been replaced with Dr. Sanya Dharmasakti, a respected law professor, as prime minister. October 15 until December 31 Political freedom was in full bloom. The most active movements were those of students and now the worker's union and even farmers. The history of Thailand since 1973 saw an unstable period of democracy, with military rule being reimposed after a bloody coup in 1976. (The previous military rulers had been removed, as a result of the Revolution of 1973.) For most of the 1980s, Thailand was ruled by prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, a democratically-inclined strongman who restored parliamentary politics. Thereafter the country remained a democracy apart from a brief period of military rule from 1991 to 1992. The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. In 2006 mass protests against the Thai Rak Thai party's alleged corruption, prompted the military to stage a coup d'état, in September. A general election in December 2007 restored a civilian government. The events of October 1973 amounted to a revolution in Thai politics. For the first time the urban middle class, led by the students, had challenged the ruling junta, and had gained the apparent blessing of the king for a transition to democracy. The leaders of the junta were forced to step down; they took refuge in the United States or Taiwan. Thailand, however, had not yet produced a political class able to make this bold new democracy function smoothly. The January 1975 elections failed to produce a stable party majority, and fresh elections in April 1976 produced the same result. The veteran politician Seni Pramoj and his brother Kukrit Pramoj alternated in power, but were unable to carry out a coherent reform program. The sharp increase in oil prices in 1974 led to recession and inflation, weakening the government's position. The democratic government's most popular move was to secure the withdrawal of American forces from Thailand. The communist insurgency led by the Thai communist party gradually became more active in the countryside, allying with urban intellectuals and students. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia fell to communist forces in 1975. The threat of the communists in the neighboring countries soon led to panic among the people. The arrival of communist regimes on Thailand’s borders, the abolition of the 600-year-old Lao monarchy, and the arrival of a flood of refugees from Laos and Cambodia swung public opinion in Thailand back to the right, and conservatives did much better in the 1976 elections than they had done in 1975. prices in 1974 led to recession and inflation, weakening the government's position. The democratic government's most popular move was to secure the withdrawal of American forces from Thailand. The communist insurgency led by the Thai communist party gradually became more active in the countryside, allying with urban intellectuals and students. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia fell to communist forces in 1975. The threat of the communists in the neighboring countries soon led to panic among the people. The arrival of communist regimes on Thailand’s borders, the abolition of the 600-year-old Lao monarchy, and the arrival of a flood of refugees from Laos and Cambodia swung public opinion in Thailand back to the right, and conservatives did much better in the 1976 elections than they had done in 1975.

14 October 1973 Uprising Analyze. What did the Thai “seventies” look like? The first picture in one’s mind should be half a million people, mainly young school and university students, but also ordinary working people, protesting around the democracy Monument on 14th October 1973. This resulted in the overthrow of the military dictatorship. It was the first mass popular uprising in modern Thai history. The 14th October and the following struggles, victories and defeats that make up the “Thai seventies” have continued to shape the nature of politics and society to this day.
The 14 October 1973 uprising dying for a cause The 14 October 1973 uprising will be remembered as one of the darkest periods in Thai political history. It was the Day of Great Sorrow when an uprising by the people brought down a military dictator. But the costs in terms of human lives left an indelible and traumatic scar on Thai society. The principal characters involved were: Field Marshall Thanom Kittikachon,the Prime Minister, Field Marshall Praphat, the Police Chief Colonel Narong, Commander 11 Infantry Regiment. Narong, Thanom's son was married to the daughter of Praphat. Thanom had taken power from Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat in 1963. In 1971, Thanom dissolved parliament and imposed one-man rule. The decade of his rule in the 1960's saw an escalation in Thai involvement in the Vietnam War. The growing US military presence in Thailand and the deployment of Thai forces in Vietnam brought on political, economic and social costs. The early 70's was an age of growing political awareness in an increasingly educated middle-class and demands for economic progress from a society tired of a regime that had stayed too long. The plot thickened as rivalry between various military and political factions intensified. It was against this backdrop that the tragedy on 14 October 1973 unfolded. The flames were stoked in June 1973 when student activists were expelled for anti-government activities. The confrontation reached a climax in October when 13 students led by student leader, Thirayuth Boonmi, were arrested. Students from Thammasat University massed at the Democracy Monument demanding the release of their colleagues. Workers and the general population who were equally disgruntled with Thanom rallied in support. Estimates of number of demonstrators exceeded 200,000, the biggest public demonstration in Thai history. Things came to a head when the student leaders who were released were rearrested. The die was cast for a bloody confrontation on that fateful day on 14 October. When the army moved in, a massacre ensued. Students ran for their lives, many jumping for cover into nearby canals. Some sought refuge in the Royal Palace at Chitlada where the gates were opened for the fleeing students. There were tales of untold heroism as some fought back by pushing buses across roads to block tanks. Recriminations continue to be traded between the people involved on 14 October 1973. Conspiracy theories abound; rivals out to dispose of Thanom by manipulating the students; a plot by army rivals who instigated the confrontation to discredit Thanom. Whatever the causes, it didn't justify the brutal use of raw military might against unarmed civilians. It was to the credit of some military units that they refused to be involved in putting down the popular uprising. In the aftermath of the bloodbath, Thanom, Praphat and Narong were asked to step down in the interest of national unity and leave the country. Sanya Thammasak, the Rector of Thammasat University, was appointed as the civilian Prime Minister. A new constitution was drawn up and elections were scheduled for January 1975. There were hopes for a lasting and stable democracy. In 1976, Thanom returned to Thailand to trigger another round of protests, an even greater tragedy and darker period in Thai political history. Again the events revolved around Thammasat University in the month of October. Where are the protagonists in the 14 October 1973 revolution today? Thanom died in Thailand in 2004. Thirayuth Boonmi, the student leader is a lecturer in Thammasat University and still an outspoken critic on national issues. The October 1973 spirit lives on. The 14 October 1973 Memorial stands as a monument to the sacrifice by the brave young men and women who stood up and died for a cause. There's another memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives in October 1973. It's in the grounds of Thammasat University, just after the main gate, on the right.

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...Alen Sonny Mr. Lewis APUSH Period 5 13 April, 2014 The War between Communism and Democracy for Dominance of Space The Space Race was a war of firsts between the United States of America and the Union Soviet Socialist Republics. But it was also the culmination of the dreams of man for many millennia and the team who worked on the space programs was able to discover what so many of the people that came before and after them could only dream of. It was an endeavor that all of humanity was invested in at the time. It was a testament to the power of the human spirit and it showed how nothing was impossible if we persevered and strived to be better. The space race did not start as one would expect with the respective American and Soviet space agencies. But rather it began with the German V2 missile launches towards the end of World War 2. The V2 missile was designed by Wernher Von Braun a German scientist who had dreamed of traveling to the moon for many years; however this dream had to be secret as it was considered to be treasonous and not helpful to the German cause. Von Braun and many other amateur rocketeers were drafted into the German war machine in order to help build a super weapon and their base was Peenemünde. When the war was nearing its end the Third Reich unleashed its secret weapon, the V2 missile. It could hit anywhere within its target range and there would be no warning. When it hit, it caused scenes of mass destruction. The V2 missiles were to be Hitler’s...

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