News Article from TAN network... translated by KONG
The October 14th, 1973 Civil Uprising stemmed from the public disgruntlement against then the junta of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn (ถนอม กิตติขจร), Field Marshal Prapas Jarusathien (ประภาส จารุเสถียร) and Colonel Narong Kittikachorn (นรงค์ กิตติขจร), who was Thanom's son and Prapas's son-in-law.
The junta was in power for nearly a decade, The charter of 1968 which took almost ten years to draft was dumped only after three years since it was promulgated when Thanom seized power in the military coup on November 17th, 1971.
The use of a military helicopter for a personal hunting trip along with widespread corruption then prompted the Thai people, especially a large number of young university students, to start a movement.
The pro-democracy students were shunned by their own education institutions and constantly harassed by the government. This led to the arrests of 13 students for distributing leaflets criticizing in the junta. The public were strongly demanding for the release of the students, who were also falsely accused of being communist sympathizers.
A small protest then expanded into a mass demonstration to demand a new constitution and a general election. However, the military government refused to give in.
On October 13th, 1973, hundreds of thousands of students and citizens started marching from Thammasat University along Rajdamnoen Avenue in what is known to be largest political gathering in the history of Thailand.
The powerful move forced the junta to release the students. It also pledged that the charter would be drafted and the general election will soon be held.
In the morning of October 14, police opened fire on the demonstrators who were about to end the gathering, angering the protesters and triggering a full-blown riot. The martial law was announced, followed by troop deployment. Live rounds were fired on the people, killing many.
Eventually, the King made a speech, asking all sides to cease violence and appointing Sanya Dharmasakti(สัญญา ธรรมศักดิ์) as the prime minister. At the same time, Thanom, Prapas and Narong agreed to leave the country on self-imposed exile.
The newly-appointed premier promised a new constitution and an election. The violence then subsided and the demonstrators dispersed soon afterwards.
The October 14th, 1973 uprising was a turning point that liberated the Thai society from the military dictatorship and it will never be forgotten by the democratic-minded citizens.