Old video of anti-dictatorship song resurfaces ahead of Thailand election

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An old video of an orchestra performing a song by Thai anti-dictatorship philosopher and composer Jit Phumisak has surfaced online ahead of the Southeast Asian country's general election on May 14. Social media users appeared to believe the footage was filmed recently and warned it would fan "hatred against the institution" ahead of the polls. However, an organiser of the concert confirmed it shows a performance in 2009. 

"A friend sent me [this video]. I saw it and was shocked. How could the country have come to this?" reads a Thai-language Facebook post from on May 5.

"Why are young people being misled so much? And [this is] a very big band in a very big conference room. How is it that nobody knows about this?"

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The video shows an orchestra performing "Blood must be washed with blood", a song by Jit whose lyrics hint at rebellion against a dictator.

Thailand goes to the polls on May 14 in a clash pitching military generals clinging to power against a younger resurgent opposition movement calling for change.

It is the first election since 2020 protests which called for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who came to power in a coup in 2014.

The Facebook post warns that Thailand "would be set on fire because of this group of people if [we] do not hurry to stop them".

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on May 9, 2023

Jit's songs are often sung at protests in Thailand, with "Starlight of Faith" becoming an anthem for student-led pro-democracy protests that swept the kingdom in 2020 (archived link).

Speaking to the BBC's Thai service in 2020, human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, one of the leaders of the protests, said the rallies were "inspired" by Jit's political ideology (archived link).

He told protesters in 2020 that they had been "passed the duty" from Jit to fight for their rights and freedom (archived link).

Similar Facebook posts shared the video of the orchestra performing Jit's song here, here and here, with some users apparently fearing the footage could spark unrest.

"Whatever concert this is, if they're singing like this, it's unacceptable. This indicates they mean business this time, very alarming," one user commented.

"The youth is now brainwashed, and the seed of hatred for the institution is planted. The intensity of hatred against the institution increases," another wrote.

Old concert video

Reverse image searches and keyword searches found the video posted on YouTube in 2010.

According to the description of the video, which was posted on October 28, 2010, the concert took place on June 13, 2009 at the Thammasat University Auditorium in Bangkok (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in a misleading Facebook post (left) and the YouTube video from 2010 (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video shared in a misleading Facebook post (left) and the YouTube video from 2010 (right)</span>
Screenshot comparison of the video shared in a misleading Facebook post (left) and the YouTube video from 2010 (right)

The same YouTube account posted dozens of videos from the concert.

According to an advertisement for the concert published in Thai newspaper Prachatai, the event was to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Jit's birth (archived link).

Thanapol Eawsakul, editor of political magazine Fa Diew Kan who co-organised the event, confirmed to AFP on May 9 that the video was from the concert in 2009.

AFP has debunked various misleading claims ahead of Thailand's election, including here and here.