- Posted December 7, 2013 by
UNARMED THAI CITIZENS WERE AMBUSHED AND THEIR GOVERNMENT ABANDONED THEM
This is a record of events at Ramkhamhaeng University by Phusana Hongsuntorn
The things that happened at Ramkhamhaeng University
Hello. For the things I am about to tell you today ((((you don’t have to believe!!!)))), you won’t have to be concerned I’ll take side. The things you’ll read, I can attest with my life, were the things my fellow students and I at Ramkhamhaeng University demonstration experienced the night of Nov 30 to the afternoon of Dec 1. I have never supported Suthep’s rallies to continue after the Amnesty Bill issues ended. However, I went to the demonstration at Ramkhamhaeng just because I wanted to protect the educational institution I love. That was just it. But events were unfolding when I arrived at the university at 2130. There were approximately 3000-5000 students already gathering there. As soon as I arrived, there was a situation when a Redshirt guard lurking among us was being apprehended. A number of technological college students were immediately rushing toward that guard. This was caused by their resentment from losing their brothers and sisters prior to that in front of the University. The demonstration leaders, students and other demonstrators put themselves in between and stopped them from assaulting that man. However, that guard was wrecked several times too before he could be separated and successfully sent to a hospital.
At approximately 2200, there were invaders camouflaging themselves under darkness in the back of the University. They were shooting at volunteer guards who were all college students, entirely all of them. There were no representatives from Suthep’s rally there to help at all. They were guards recruited from demonstrators in the University and eventually, I became one of them to help one another patrol the University’s boundary. The only thing a guard received was a thin strip of silver paper to wrap around his arm. Certainly, there were some of us grabbing knives and pieces of wood in our hands as comfort when we were ambushed by some guards firing from darkness. However, there were those who knew the pieces of wood were useless against people with guns. We were just distributing water and food. The money came either from some of our university seniors or various student associations. But I’ll have to admit we received things from Suthep’s big rally the next morning. However, no one was in the mood to eat by that time and the cause of it is the matter I am about to tell you.
We heard sounds of gun shots and big fire crackers that sounded like bombs the entire time we were gathering there and the demonstrators, including me, really got used to them for a period of time. We were no longer like vigilant rabbits we once were in the beginning when we just heard them. At that time in the beginning, we rushed toward people or ran away from the bombing sounds. We came totally with our hearts but this was cause for the government to declare martial law. A lot of our brothers and sisters were injured and killed, unlike how it was reported in the news that there were no deaths. Although the exact number is not known, it is certainly not 1-2 people. This does not include many of those who were critically and moderately injured. I’d like to know too who those people were, the people wearing red shirts who instigated the technological college students at the front and the back gates of Ramkhamhaeng University, and those riding motorcycles into Rajmangkla Stadium. Did they want a clash between the two sides? I can’t tell but I want to assure you again that we tried to the best of our ability to not get out of our university boundary. How would 3000-5000 college students suddenly gathering for a special event like this be able to fight tens and hundreds of thousand demonstrators with the government backing them? Right? Our University President eventually asked the police for help and to restore order for the students because we were shot at and wounded within our own homestead. However, the police refused to come while claiming they could not enter despite Hua Mark Police Station being just a few meters and the Wang Thonglang Police Station being just a few kilometers away. As for the reasons, whoever knows those, please tell me. After the refusal from the police and a minister, our University President could no longer put up with it. He announced his stance on stage for the first time against the government. This restored our strength once again because at least he did not forsake us.
Later on, there was a helicopter from the government continuously flying above us in circle. We didn’t know the reason why it circling only above us to observe while there were two mobs there next to each other and separated only by a wall. We would have been able to see one another with such a short distance if there had been no wall.
We began to feel relieved in the morning because there would probably be no one daring to shoot us in broad daylight in plain sight like that. And we were about to go home to take a shower and find something to eat to fill our stomach. We would see what to do the next day when we expected to have a lot more people coming. However, the unthinkable happened…
As soon as the helicopter flew by, it changed our lives. There were sounds of several rounds of rifle shots followed by bursts of real concussive sounds of bombs from the entrance checkpoint. This immediately created chaos because it was just an ambush before that without firing at our stage. Those shots were aimed at guards patrolling the area in various spots. Noises from the stage told us to take cover and we dispersed hastily in between buildings. When I turned around to look at the stage, there was a female student followed by another male falling down.
The rally leader asked for a motorcycle from someone to ride through the hail of bullets to get the two students to a hospital first because an ambulance was prohibited from coming in. I think the students were in real critical conditions. There were also others who were hit by explosive flaks. At the moment, I must tell you everybody and I were tremendously shocked. How did they dare to do this to us? How would the culprits face society when Thai people get to know this? The events were continuously unfolding. We were using 3 buildings as shields because some of us knew that the bullet trajectories were coming from the direction of the Rajmangkla Stadium. We suddenly heard the sound of a helicopter again and there was a female student waving at government officials of the realm on that helicopter along with a hopeful shout, “Help! Help us, officers.” I thought those were police coming to help us too as soon as I saw it but that was the opposite. Every time a helicopter flew by, there were sounds of automatic rifles heavily firing at us no more than 3 minutes after, and there were some of us dropping, either wounded or dead.
Once we realized the helicopter was there to locate us as targets, there was more chaos. All of us ran and dispersed into 4-5 buildings. Students tried to get into some buildings by breaking their side windows and I was close to that spot. We were helping one another to break in. We let ladies in first with all of the men still standing outside trying to find out from which directions the shots were being fired. Another thing was fear that they would burst in to burn the buildings like what they did in the past. That would endanger the people inside. I don’t know what the feeling of Oct 14 was but it must not have been different than ours. Students with bare hands running away back and forth, and they were shooting as if they were having fun with playing games. What are their hearts made of? It was no matter if those were male, female, young or old, they could care less. They were firing at us like pigs, dogs, crows, and chickens. They also distorted the truth through media all that time. After a moment of bombarding us, there was a group of women still outside the building. Three to four of my male friends and I helped them cross the path to get to the building. As soon as we started to sprint, sounds of rifles broke out, bang! We dropped to the ground and started running again. However, not all of us got there this time. A friend of ours was lying on the ground and did not get up. We shouted, “There was a person shot! Get him back in here, quick!” I didn’t want to believe either that in the midst of bullet hail, people who did not know one another would not hesitate to run back there to help him. I must honor the spirit of all those gentlemen a lot as part of this. There was a number of times when we had to stand there as human shields for those ladies and the elderly. However, no one refused to do it as soon as we entered such a highly stressful situation.
Although it was a huge auditorium, we could not open the door. We had to stay out in darkness and with despair. Several of our seniors tried to contact radio and TV stations because we wanted people to know what happened and to get us out of there. But eventually, no one came to help, not at all. Those who promised to come lied to us. We began to be exhausted after some time. We were disheartened and hopeless. Why were law enforcement and the powers-that-be in the country not interested in helping us at all? I felt like I was being abandoned despite us not wanting much. We just wanted safety in our own homestead as basic human rights. But you could not give even that to us…
While we were in despair in Ramkhamhaeng Auditorium, nurses were taking care of people who fainted or were wounded. No matter who we were, male of female, we were in a state of shock. I myself was not brave. My vision was clouded and my lips were numb too. I was saddened that Thai people did this to one another to this degree. I was afraid there would be more of my friends wounded or killed. I was outraged and vengeful for not being able to get back at them in anyway. I was also moved to see all of us helping one another. After being in a dark room, there were several senior students risking their lives to bring water and medicines from a very risky area (stage area). I helped distributing water like what many others did.
As I was walking along, I heard stories my friends in the room were telling. Some leaned against walls and some sat in the middle or by doors. Let me bring some of those stories here for you to read. There was a female student who called her parents and told them, “I am sorry for upsetting you, Mom. I am at the University at the moment and I can’t get out. I don’t know what will happen but if something happens to me, I want to tell Mom and Dad I am sorry for behaving badly…” Once I hear her shaking voice like she was on a verge of tears, I walked out with tears. I don’t know how to explain this because there were a lot of people calling to say goodbye to their parents and their friends just like that. Do you feel the anguish hearing that? It made me very much want to walk out there and shoot at those surrounding us. I believe if someone had given us weapons at the time, we would not have put up with it anymore. Either them or us would have died.
There is another story from a male student to tell you. He came without telling his parents. He called and told them to take good care of themselves. He said he was home and told his parents who were at Rajmangkla Stadium to not come out to fight with anyone. He told them to hurry back home because he was waiting for them to have dinner together. I will tell you with no shame that while he was talking on the phone and I was turning to look at him through darkness, I didn’t know what he looked like or how he was, but his heart was pure, truly pure. He made a man like me who never cried for anyone to wipe tears coming down my cheeks….
On Dec 1, 2013 at 0800, there was a noise from a man singing our national anthem from outside the building. As soon as all of us heard that, we sang the song together along at that very second! It was the most melodious national anthem I have ever heard. It was mixed with gratitude. I don’t know how to explain this in words or letters so that I can convey the emotion for you to know all of it. I sang the national anthem along with my friends. A lot of us may have had the same thoughts I had that at least if the people who surrounded us heard the national anthem their compatriots were singing, it may make them realize what they were doing to the students who are the nation’s future. Most of us gathered there with love for our institution. We did not come because Suthep wanted us to be there. We did not come because we wanted the government to resign. And even when we wanted the military to come and get us out of there, we still did not want them to stage a coup. However, I will not deny that some of us wanted to overthrow the government because the stage in front of Rankhamhaeng was like that in the beginning when there were very few demonstrators compared to the number after an event when our female students were assaulted by Redshirt guards. And there were male students frequently ambushed around the University. We did not get any help after we filed charges with the police. Those did not include the event when the picture of HM King Ramkhamhaeng on the sign to oppose the Amnesty Bill was slit and destroyed. They trampled on the honor of Ramkhamhaeng people and this led to the situation when a bus was surrounded as reported in the news. We have been turned into barbarians in the eyes of outsiders despite the fact that they intended to bring a vehicle full or Redshirts to incite us after clashes by driving it by the University when they normally would use a detour through another route. As for the matter of the taxicab, we were fully at fault with no excuse. A lot of us lost our senses and discretion because of rage. However, there were a lot of us trying to dissuade those too.
A lot of people are mistaken, thinking that all of us came because we wanted to topple the government, that we have become Suthep’s political pawns, or we don’t respect the voice of the country’s majority. I can tell you those are not related. Ramkhamhaeng University having its stance in opposition of the Amnesty Bill stems from all the universities together having the same stance to uphold our laws and prevent those with wrongdoings to go scot-free simply because they are from the country’s majority. That must not be made possible. If so, if I have a lot of friends, I can just walk up to someone with fewer friends, punch him and tell them, “I am from the majority,” can’t I? I must apologize if sometimes my record of these events has some parts of it that sound like fiction or have too much personal emotion added to it till some of you who do not know me personally may think I have fabricated this to discredit the government. I can tell you right here that I am one of those party-list voters during the last election to support Pheu Thai party to form the government, and I chose the Democrat Party in constituency votes. I have never allowed myself to drift along with society trend. I think, analyze, and select the most righteous thing at the time. I never thought to participate in any rally designed to topple an elected government. I support democracy with a leader from election by people in the country.
Let me return to tell the story once again… Not long after the national anthem ended, there were sounds of gunshots bursting. I assumed those were warning shots to tell us not to come out of the building. I came down to the ground floor after that to monitor external circumstances as to how they were going and if there were anyone coming to help us. My heart was pounding all the time as I was crossing from one building to the next not knowing when bullets would come at me. However, from what I could tell, if there were only a few of us walking about, there was nothing happening to us. But if there were more than 2-3 people running here and there, there were gunshot sounds immediately again. Once I got outside, there were our university seniors asking able-bodied men to build bunkers to block visibility from the direction of Rajmangkla Stadium and the back gates of the university so the Redshirts demonstrators coming out from the stadium through the back gate would not see us. We were concerned there would be instigation back and forth to cause more clashes, and certainly, hopefully the snipers would not see us either. There were a lot of men around the building so when 10 people were asked to sacrifice, 20 people ran up there. I arrived there later and looked at the image of my university juniors standing there, each at a pole, to unleash strings from a green tent, collapse it and drag it to shield some spots. Those who think we were brave, heroes, or whatever, we were not. We stood on shaking legs with our backs against the stadium to untangle the strings from each pole. We did not dare to look around every time there were sounds of gunshots because we did not want to know if our friends who were unleashing the strings nearby had already fallen or not. We retreated to our shelter as soon as we were done with our mission. And fortunately very much, all of us got back that time.
As time went by, I saw a reporter at the Executive Building in front of the university. I later learned of his name as Frederick. He was a French reporter asking to interview several of us but he did not get a lot of details so I asked for his e-mail. I have sent all the details to him. The matter appeared to have ended when the Redshirts leaders announced an end to their rally but we were not careless. We tried to get all the students hiding in various buildings to gather at the Executive Building. Certainly, there must be those who would have to sacrifice as usual. We had to clear an area for female students to run through because the area was really cluttered. It was full of mats, water bottles, and lunch boxes we left behind to save our lives at dawn when we were bombarded. This was the most dangerous spot because it was where a lot of us were bombarded in the morning causing a lot of people to be wounded. They were sent to a hospital. I pray that all of those friends are safe. Many outsiders were interested in how many of us were killed for certain but what we were interested in was for those critically injured friends to be safe. My friends and I were standing at spots that students or people who were ladies would run from to get to the Executive Building so they would be safe. There would also be water, food, medicines, and nurses there for them.
Four to five of my friends and I got rid of obstacles from those paths by kicking, throwing, and pulling mats away, as quickly as possible. Frederick, the reporter, took pictures all the time so there was no violence because, I think, people on the helicopter above probably told the snipers that there was a foreign reporter there. There were only warning shots off and on. It appeared the event had ended because there had been no more sounds of gunshots and bombs for a long time and reporters from all news agencies had arrived, except from Channel 3. They truly came quickly because the event occurred last early evening but they came at almost exactly noon of the following day!! Thank you, reporters!! Really thank you!! Friends who were in front of the university and those with obligations gradually left. Everyone thought there would be nothing else happening for certain because there were a lot of reporters from several agencies. There were only those who did not dare to leave left because there was news that there were clashes between Redshirts and students who were returning home in Ramkhamhaeng 53. My home was far away and I did not live in a dorm in the area so I stayed on to observe. I planed to leave with a military vehicle coming in to get us. But I did not know how military vehicles were turned into vehicles from the Bangkok provincial government. Once one got there, female students were loaded up first but it had not yet departed when the unthinkable happened again… I reiterate, “again”!!!
God help us!!! Is this Thailand?!!! Snipers popped out of an overpass in front of the university. Reporters who were standing there with cameras in their hands got into a muddled state. We ran back into the building again while the sounds of gunshots were bursting. However, this did not make it into news. There was just a little of it if there was any and they said it was an “unknown force.” Damnation!!! The bus parked outside the building had so many bullet holes in it that there was almost no more space left on it windows. I didn’t know if additionally there were anyone shot. I don’t want to say something I didn’t see with my own eyes because everyone was pushing one another to get back into the building. I was at first in front of the door and when I heard there were snipers, I was shocked and ran out to look. I saw with both my eyes and shouted to let everyone know that several hundreds sniper had been sighted. Let me tell you there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever who the snipers were or if there was a third party involved because they had their automatic rifles slung precisely at the spot where two police vehicles were parked to observe our movement in Ramkhamhaeng the night before. And if there were a third party, why would the police not arrest them? They had a helicopter they could chase these snipers with but they claimed it was a risky area…they did not dare to get in… “And why did you become police officers?”
I would like to leave a question for those in the government. An event occurred when college students had been chased down and thunderously shot at from early in the evening one day to noon of the following day. If you were not involved, who would allow students to be shot at to that extent? There were a lot of clues. If you cannot take care of one university, why would you still want to be a government? Is it because you get paid well? As for events after that, military servicemen got us out of there according to the news. However, I did not go with them because I was exceedingly outraged that there was absolutely no news about this. The news that went out was distorted that students were fighting one another or that we surrounded Rajmangkla Stadium. This makes me understand why the government dares to do this to us to this extent. You solicit a mass media war. You may have thought you would never lose but as a victim, I will tell you, this will never end. I will condemn your evilness for my descendants to know. I will write the truth for people to read even though there may be only a few who would believe it. I have thousands of witnesses and we have no benefits to gain from this. We do not like Suthep and we will not accept what happened at Ramkhamhaeng University!!!!!!! I beg you to please spread the information to the public and demand justice for our Ramkhamhaeng University.