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Turbulent Thailand

Thai youth cling to hope for change on massacre anniversary

Students seek uncensored history through exhibits and social media

Protest leader Thatchapong Kaedam says protests will continue as long as Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha stays in power, but demonstrations are not attracting the numbers they once did. (Photo by Francesca Regalado)

BANGKOK -- A new exhibit in Bangkok drops visitors in the middle of Sanam Luang, the royal field adjoining the Grand Palace, on the morning of Oct. 6, 1976. That day began with bullets and grenades raining on the campus of Thammasat University, a short walk from the field. It ended with at least 46 dead -- estimates suggest the real figure was more than 100 -- and 3,000 arrested.

Students had gathered to protest military meddling in democratic government. Outside, right-wing groups were encouraged to surround the campus, told that the students held communist ideas that could threaten the monarchy. The trapped students were then forced to lie facedown and shirtless on the field, with some beaten and hanged by the mob. The massacre became the pretext for a swift military coup.

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