Thai Peace Day 2023
Thai Peace Day, or Wan Santiphap Thai, was first established in 1995 to commemorate the end of hostilities in World War II—50 years after the end of the war itself. The day carries special meaning for the families descended from the underground resistance movement as well as from the many other casualties of WWII.
The Free Thai Movement
On August 8th, 1941, Thailand was invaded by the Empire of Japan and pressured into declaring war on the United States and Great Britain.
However, then-Thai ambassador to the United States Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj refused to do so. Instead, with U.S. support, Seni organized a large-scale resistance movement which came to be known as the Free Thai (Seri Thai) Movement. This guerrilla movement bravely fought Japanese troops until the end of the war to liberate the Thai people.
Fifty years after the end of the war in 1945, the Council of Ministers of Thailand officially established Thai Peace Day. The date itself, August 16th, marks one day after the announcement of Japan’s surrender.
Since its declaration in 1995, Thai Peace Day has become a significant diplomatic event commemorated by Thailand’s government as well as the historians of Thailand’s academic institutions.
Notably, Thammasat University hosted an event in 2018 to honor Thai Peace Day, which was attended by the Privy Council, diplomatic representatives, and the surviving relatives of Seri Thai fighters.
Memorial ceremonies are hosted throughout the nation, often attended by government officials, parliamentarians, and diplomats, especially of Allied countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
WWII memorials in Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi has several World War II memorials, due in part to the construction of the Siam-Burma Railway by Allied prisoners of war and civilian forced labor. On Thai Peace Day, visitors may see the Art Gallery and War Museum, Hell Fire Pass Memorial Museum, JEATH War Museum, and Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.