In Thailand, eighteen students have been granted amnesty by Prime Minister Kriangsak Chamanand and released on Saturday (16 September) after nearly 2 years since their imprisonment during unrest which led to a military coup in 1976.
In Thailand, eighteen students have been granted amnesty by Prime Minister Kriangsak Chamanand and released on Saturday (16 September) after nearly 2 years since their imprisonment during unrest which led to a military coup in 1976. The students were arrested in clashes with police at Bangkok's Thammasat University, held on subversion charges and detained ever since.
SYNOPSIS: The students were held at three separate prisons while hundreds of their fellow students fled Bangkok and joined Communist insurgents in the jungles of Thailand. the Government says it hopes the amnesty will bring the exiled students back
The clashes on the sixth of October 1976 were closely followed by a military coup??? and the imposition of martial law, which is still in force. For the last 9 months the eighteen students have been on trial for alleged treason, insulating the monarchy and for communist activities. Conviction cold have brought the death penalty.
Relatives gathered outside the prisons to greet the students. King Bhumibol Adulyadej had urged the government to declare the amnesty and observers say the release of the students is aimed at eliminating a divisive national issue before the coming general election.
The students were taken to the Ministry of Defence to be formally released by the military court. They had been the first defendants in Thailand to be allowed legal counsel while being tried under martial law
The government submitted its amnesty bill on Friday (15 September) an Parliament passed it in a single session. The Government said the trial had gone on long enough and that "youth inexperience and misunderstanding" had been taken into account in considering amnesty. The trial attracted world-wide attention from governments and human rights organisations. The bill was passed by 180 votes to one, with 50 military members abstaining.
The students now released were detained during these clashes in october 1976. Several thousand students and left-wing demonstrators protested against the presence in the country of former military ruler Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, who had been deposed following students riots three years earlier. Forty-six people were killed and hundreds injured in the fighting when he returned.
More than a thousand students were arrested. The military feared a communist take-over, and assumed power. The students who had forced out the military in 1973, precipitated its return three years later.