Monument to the 1973 uprising, Bangkok
A monument to and exhibition about the violent clashes between protesters and government forces in 1973, near the Democracy Monument, where protesters tend to rally to this day in Bangkok
>More background info
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
More background info: the clashes of 1973 followed nearly two years after the previous Thai government was overthrown in a military coup, allegedly to avert a threat of communist insurgency. But the promise of a speedy return to democracy remained unfulfilled for nearly two years.
A pro-democracy movement had formed and the confrontations with the authorities escalated over a period of 10 days in October 1973. Arrests, police brutality, etc. couldn't stem the flood of protests, though, and on 14 October the clashes culminated in a massacre, when the military tried to disperse a mass demonstration, the biggest ever in Thailand
, with between 200,000 and 500,000 demonstrators.
People fled in panic as the military opened fire, even taking cover by jumping into the (filthy!) canal (klong), but for many it was too late. As usual in these affairs, there's a discrepancy between the official death toll (77) and the unofficial estimates of several hundred dead.
In the end, however, the government was overthrown and its key members forced to flee the country. This was partly made possible because the military refused to act so violently against a popular uprising. A new constitution was then drawn up and the rector of the university where the protest had begun was appointed as a civilian prime minister.
This victory for the pro-democracy movement may have been significant, but it had come at a bloody price – nor was it the end of Thailand
's history of political uprisings.
What there is to see: the monument itself is pretty uninteresting – it's mainly a brick cone, almost a needle on a plinth poking up into the sky, surrounded by a colonnaded semi-circle with a kind of atrium in the middle.
What is more interesting are the blow-ups of photos of the clashes and in particular the many newspaper cuttings and explanatory texts about the developments of the conflict.
It's very educational, especially for someone like me whose knowledge of the ins and outs of Thailand
's political history is rather scant … Well worth a little detour for the determined dark tourist.
on Ratchadamnoen Klang Boulevard, Bangkok
, just a block west of the Democracy Monument, on the southern side of the road. It's also just a few steps from the famous Khao San backpacker road.
Access and costs: easy and free.
Details: the monument can be found just beyond the well-known Democracy Monument on the southern side of Ratchadamnoen Klang Boulevard. The klong speed boat pier Tha Phra Athit provides the closest convenient public transport access, it's only about 500 yards walk from there. Access is free (theoretically at all times, but presumably pointless in the dark).
Time required: a look at the monument only takes a minute or so, but if you want to read all the displayed texts, it'll take while (half an hour or a bit more perhaps).
Combinations with other dark destinations:
. The Rommani Nart prison museum
is just ca. half a mile (800 m) walk south. The Democracy Monument, the traditional rallying point for political demonstrations to this day, is worth a look too – it's bigger and grander than the 1973 uprising monument, naturally, and sits on an island in the centre of a busy roundabout, so you can only view it from the side of the street. It consists of four wing-like columns surrounding a central shrine. The areas in between are usually filled with flower beds.
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
- Bangkok 1973 uprising monument 1
- Bangkok 1973 uprising monument 2
- Bangkok 1973 uprising monument 3
- Bangkok 1973 uprising monument
- Bangkok Democracy Monument