Khrong Chandawong (1908 – 31 May 1961) was a Thai politician and democracy activist who was executed on the orders of dictator Sarit Thanarat. His last words before his execution; “May dictatorship be wrecked. May democracy be flourish.” (Thai: เผด็จการจงพินาศ ประชาธิปไตยจงเจริญ), have been repeatedly quoted in various protests and demonstrations for Thailand’s struggling democracy.
Khrong Chandawong, photo taken prior to 1959
|Member of the Thai House of Representatives|
|Constituency||Sakon Nakhon Province|
Sakon Nakhon Province
|Died||31 May 1961|
|Profession||teacher, politician, activist|
Born to a well-off farming family in Sakon Nakhon Province, Chandawong began his career as a teacher in his home region. During World War II, he joined the Free Thai Movement (Seri Thai), an underground anti-Japanese resistance movement.:183
In the post-war era, Chandawong's activities attracted the ire of several Thai governments. He was a close friend of Tiang Sirikhanth, who, like Chandawong, was a schoolteacher from Sakon Nakhon and former member of Seri Thai, and who was killed in 1952 on orders of the Phibun government. Chandawong founded Sammakkhittham ('Solidarity'), a peasant-based group which allegedly attracted thousands of members in northeastern Thailand and was seen as a threat by the central government. Chandawong was jailed for five years from 1952 to 1957 on charges of rebellion, before being released as part of a mass amnesty.:129–130
After his release, Chandawong became a member of parliament for Sakon Nakhon from 1957–1958. He advocated repeal of anti-communist laws, direct election of village headmen, and Isan separatism. On 6 May 1961, Chandawong and several dozen others were arrested for alleged communist activities. He was accused of anti-Buddhist and anti-monarchical activities. According to the statement announcing his execution, he had stated that, after a communist revolution in Thailand, the king and monks would be sent to labor in factories.:108
Execution and aftermathEdit
On 30 May 1961, Prime Minister Sarit Thanarat met with his cabinet and decreed that Chandawong and Thongpan Sutthimat were to be executed "to protect national security and the Throne". The pair were summarily executed the next day. After the execution, Chandawong's wife and daughter, along with other activists, fled into the mountains of northeastern Thailand; they made contacts with the Pathet Lao and would form the core of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT). His daughter, under the alias Rassamee, became something of a cult figure in the CPT, while two of his sons became provincial-level figures within the movement. A small monument was erected to Chandawong and Thongpan in 2003, but was later moved inside a government compound and then had a road built within a meter of the new location.
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