Student activism in Thailand had grown during the 1960s as the number of students in university increased rapidly. In 1971, the Thanom Kittikachorn government launched a coup and restored authoritarian rule by disbanding the national legislature, terminating the 1968 constitution, and proclaiming martial law. On 15 December 1972, a new constitution was established that gave Prime Minister Thanom and his National Executive Council extensive power, but promised to return the country to democracy as soon as the communist threat was eliminated.
The country of Thailand has experienced several conflicts between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority. In the decade of the 1970s tensions rose in the southern Thai region of Pattani. In late 1975 six young Muslims were traveling in a car through Pattani when they were stopped by soldiers. They were arrested, apparently for further questioning, but in fact were taken to a bridge, stabbed, and their bodies were thrown into the river. A fifteen year-old boy survived and swam ashore. The boy told other Muslims what had happened.