October 14, 1973 (known as Bloody October), October 6, 1976, and Black May on May 17, 1992 are major dates in Thailand's struggle for democracy. In modern Thailand, the military has fired on the people these three occasions. There has never been any formal apology, although each time the military has said it could never happen again.
Black May happened when pro-democracy protesters were brutally attacked by military forces under army commander General Issarapong Noonpakdi in central Bangkok. They were protesting the overthrow of Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan by the military, led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon. In the attack on protesters 48 died and 44 went missing, according to initial official accounts.
According to the U.S. Human Rights Report (1997), "The number of pro-democracy protesters officially listed as missing following the military suppression of demonstrations in May 1992 was reduced to 38 after one individual was located alive. Her disappearance had not previously been related to political activity. Most, if not all, are presumed by family members and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) to be dead.
Amnesty International warned that Thailand's army is still not being held accountable for human rights violations, in part because the government has never produced a full account of the 1992 events. "No one in the security forces has been brought to justice," for the May 1992 events, and the killings "haunt both the government and the people of Thailand," Amnesty said.
The reforms triggered by the Black May massacre were on the face of it far reaching; a new, liberal minded 1997 constitution helped foster a strong civic society and a press freer than almost any in South East Asia.
Thailand is still, however, struggling with democracy. All of the media is controlled by the government or the army, and the Prime Minister elected in 2001, Thaksin Shinawatra, has come under fire for efforts to muzzle critical media comment and his seeming determination to trim the powers of the counter-corruption commission.