14 October Democracy Day in Thailand Date in the current year: October 14, 2024

14 October Democracy Day in Thailand 14 October Democracy Day is an official memorial day in Thailand. It was established in 2003 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1973 popular uprising, which ended Thanom Kittikachorn’s military dictatorship and altered the country’s political system, reverting it back to democracy.

From the foundation of the Sukhothai Kingdom in 1238 until the Siamese revolution of 1932, Thailand was an absolute monarchy. The revolution resulted in the establishment of constitutional monarchy and the beginning of the country’s transitioning to democracy. Unfortunately, Thailand’s road to democracy has never been an easy one; although nominally a constitutional monarchy, Thailand was ruled by a series of military governments for decades.

The first military dictator of Thailand was Plaek Phibunsongkhram, commonly known as Phibun, who came to power in 1938. In 1957, he was overthrown by a group of young officers led by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. Following Sarit Thanarat’s death in 1963, he was succeeded by his right-hand man, Thanom Kittikachorn. In 1971, Thanom staged a coup against his own government under the pretense of suppressing communist infiltration and became arguably the most powerful man in Thailand.

Student demonstrations against Thanom’s government began in 1968 and continuously grew in size and numbers despite the ban on political meetings. In June 1973, nine students from Ramkhamhaeng University were expelled for publishing an article criticizing the government in a student newspaper. In response, thousands of students went out to protest at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, demanding that the expelled students be re-enrolled. At first, the government shut down the universities, but eventually the protesters’ demands were met.

In October, another thirteen students were arrested and charged with anti-government conspiracy. This time workers, businessmen and other people joined student protesters. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets and demanded not only the release of the imprisoned, but also the replacement of the current government and the adoption of a new constitution.

On October 13, the arrested students were released, and protest leaders called of the planned protest march to honor the king’s wishes. As the crowds were dispersing on October 14, many protesters couldn’t leave because most roads were blocked by the police. The conflict between the police and the protesters quickly got out of control, and Thamon ordered the military to intervene. In the resulting chaos, 77 protesters were killed and 857 were injured.

Finally, the king intervened and opened the gates of the royal villa to the student protesters, and commander Kris Sivara ordered the army to withdraw, disobeying Thanom’s order to intensify the military action. The king forced the military government to resign and ordered Thanom and his closest associates to leave the country.

October 14 Democracy Day in Thailand is marked with a remembrance ceremony held at the 14 October Memorial in Bangkok. It is attended by representatives of political parties, private and public sector, religious leaders of different denominations, families of the people killed during the 1973 uprising, and the general public. October 14 is an official observance in Thailand, but it is not a non-working day unless it falls on a weekend.

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14 October Democracy Day in Thailand, holidays in Thailand, observances in Thailand, 1973 popular uprising in Thailand