A brief Communist Chronology, Villages, Roads & Battles in North Thailand

DavidFL

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In the early fifties there was no government presence in the rugged forests which form Thailand's northern border with Laos and Burma.
The hill tribe people were ignored & left alone by the governments of the day to roam back and forth at will from Yunnan to Burma to Laos to Thailand.
Left alone & ignored by the governments of the day the people of the mountain areas were neglected, vulnerable, & so open to infiltration from communists who assisted them with health care & farming, and so gained their confidence.

The first villagers were Hmong tribesmen recruited from the Chiang Rai-Nan-Phetchabun area between I957 and I959 to serve with the Pathet Lao in Laos.

In 1962 the CPT Central Committee established four regional branches, for the North, the Northeast, the Central region, and the South.

In 1965 @ Mae Sot, Hmong were recruited & sent for training in Vietnam.

In 1965 @ Thung Chang in Nan, Hmong communists from Xayaboury in Laos started recruiting & propaganda training.

In 1965 @ Pua weapons training was being conducted.

In 1966 @ Tab Tao (R1155) communists began propaganda training.

Tab Tao is 1 kms south of the Lao U Turn off


In February 1967 @ Huai Poo Lai near Thung Chang, there was a small battle between police & some infiltrators.

On 8 May I967 @ Huai Chomphu, near Thoeng, officials engaged in a battle with Hmong villagers, resulting in 1 government force death, and the torching of the village as retribution.

The battle lines were drawn.

In October 1967 @ Doi Pa San Luang in Nan there was a clash with casualties on the Thai side.

24 December I967 @ Mae Lamao, near Mae Sot, 3 BPP soldiers were killed in a Hmong ambush.

A work in progress much more coming.
 
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DavidFL

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Napalm
The regular Thai army patrolling the border regular army were not experienced in small-unit jungle operations, and had no hill-tribe language capability.
The result was they suffered even more casualties - principally from sniping and booby traps. They retaliated with the use of napalm, burning entire villages that they thought might be harbouring enemy soldiers!
Several incidents of this indiscriminate bombing and napalming are described in a series of articles in the Far Eastern Economic Review issues of 7 March, I I April and 25 April I968. The bombing of villages was reported frequently in the Bangkok papers until news of operations in the North was banned in late I969.

Phu Langkha
In the 60s-70s all this area was a communist sympathetic area & inhabited by hill tribes - the Yao & the Hmong - growing opium - what you had to do to survive & make some money, because the government wasn't that interested in the hill folks out there.
A few anthropologists though were researching the villagers & trying to assist with agriculture.
Some of them spent time with the villagers & got to know them reasonably well I guess.
One of them was in Phu Langkha 1968-69.
The Yao village of Phu Langkha had already been there for 50 years in 68-69, but in Feb 68 the Thai military government decided it was time to have a clean out & rid the area of the opium growers & their crops.

The village of Phu Langkha was bombed & everyone was evacuated. The army then came in &

"set fire to dwellings and ransacked outhouses (stables, granaries, pig pens etc) while other units manually planted mines in the vicinity of those constructions and in all swiddens at or above the minimum altitude (1000 metres) required by the poppy crop. Any likelihood of even a temporary return by the Yao fugitives appeared to have been totally eliminated. Poppy growing in the area had been permanently terminated by denying the crop the human labour essential for its cultivation."

Phu Langkka is nearby Doi Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary.

After the CPT surrendered, many were evicted, throughout the 1980s possibly, and at least as late as 1990 (by essentially the same outfits as had invited them earlier).
Near Phulangka, the Phachangnoi Wildlife Sanctuary was established to take land away from possible CPT use. There was no large scale logging, but the WS Director had a road built into the forest for the benefit of his “friends” for at least selective cutting of choice trees(there was also sporadic hunting by WS staff). Local farmers state that the forest was in much better shape prior to the WS being established. I find it plausible that napalm accounts for the lack of regrowth in that area of Phayao (formerly part of Ch.Rai), but don’t know how one would find out.

Source: New Mandala

Well worth reading: The violent suppression of opium cultivation - New Mandala

More to come.
 
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DavidFL

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Doi Phachi / Doi Pha Chang Wildlife Sanctuary - an ex communist base


There are graves & memorials to communist fallen fighters near Ban Santisuk.
 
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DavidFL

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Yang Hom - Huai Chomphu

On 8 May I967 @ Huai Chomphu, near Thoeng, officials engaged in a battle with Hmong villagers, resulting in 1 government force death, and the torching of the village as retribution. The town on the highway R1020, is Yang Hom , where the Khun Tan hospital is.

On Google maps this area

The Ban Chomphu School is here

Tat Mok Waterfall is here, on the Huai Chomphu

So we could assume all the action place, further east up the mountain somewhere?

Of note is that this probable location is further north along the ridge line from Phaya Phipak.

A report on the action of the day goes like this.

Several foreigners closely associated with the government effort in the North independently reported that the burning of Huai Chom Poo grew out of a series of extortion attempts by local government officials in Thoeng district.

According to their swidden agricultural practice the Hmong of Huai Chom Poo began, probably in February I967, to fell trees in the vicinity of their village.

After a period of drying, the trees and brush were burned, and the resulting smoke apparently attracted the attention of local Thai officials. One of them arrived to demand payment for not reporting the burning to higher authorities, and as was customary was paid off by the Hmong. Later a second official arrived independently of the first, the foreign sources reported, and he too was paid off. Word then finally reached the Provincial Police office in Thoeng district, and a delegation was sent to extract yet a third payment (though without knowing that it was in fact the third).

This move was an ill-advised one, for the patience of the Hmong had worn thin) and the reception was a violent one.

The official police report of the violence at Huai Chom Poo omits mention of any extortion attempts, but it does record that on 8 May I967, a fifty-man group of Thai hiked to Huai Chom Poo, arriving at 2.00 pm.

They found no men, and only a few old women, in the village. The latter said that all the men had gone to the neighbouring village of Pa Daeng, and a Thai officer then told them to instruct their men to come to the village of Yang Hom (near the Thoeng-Chiang Khong road in the valley) to discuss the tree-cutting.

On the way back down to the valley the group was attacked by the Hmong, resulting in the death of one man, the wounding of four others, and the capture of three more.

Early the next day another group of 64 policemen set out from Thoeng, arriving and surrounding Huai Chom Poo at about noon.

The Hmong then opened fire and the fighting went on for the next 2I hours. Finally the Hmong withdrew, allowing the three captured men to escape.

Although the report did not say so directly, it was apparently at this point that the village was burned by the police.

A short time later a third group of police was sent in, who completed the job of destruction by burning the remaining huts, killing the animals, and destroying stored grain.

The Huai Chom Poo area then quieted down, but the police kept numerous patrols in the area.
 

DavidFL

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Huai Chomphu an another report on that incident.

8 May 1967 that the first fighting between Hmong in the CPT and government forces ensued in northern Thailand. Huai Chomphu Village in Chiang Rai Province was the site of the start of the armed conflict.

Comrade Kham (Jong Teng Sae Vang) was providing basic political training to Hmong villagers at the time, but the CPT was still building its political base and had thus been avoiding direct confrontation with government forces (Interview with Jong Teng Sae Vang 2014).

However, conflict unexpectedly erupted between lowland Thai leaders and Hmong people at Huai Chomphu Village due to lowlander efforts to fine four Hmong families for conducting swidden cultivation in a watershed area above their village.
Crucially, the Border Patrol Police (BPP) became involved in the dispute.

On May 8, numerous BPP came to the village with lowland leaders, but the Hmong in the village hid in the forest when they heard that they were coming.
The BPP started breaking into Hmong houses to look for things to take.
A Hmong woman had forgotten a valuable silver necklace, and she went back to her house in the village to retrieve it.
Some BPP saw her and followed her from the village to where the rest of the Hmong were hiding. When the BPP saw the group, they started shooting at them.
The Hmong shot back with their flint rifles; during the ensuing firefight, one Hmong man was injured and one BPP officer was killed.
The BPP retreated, leaving the lowland village headman and the sub-district chief as hostages. The Hmong stated that they would not release the “hostages” until their valuables were returned.
The next day, however, the BPP came back but this time with much more personnel and firepower.
Just before the arrival of the BPP, the Hmong fled to the forest and abandoned the unharmed hostages.
The BPP were angry and shot their guns randomly in the village, killing domestic animals roaming around.
Then, they burned down all the houses, except for the one where the hostages had been held.
These events forced the Hmong from Huai Chomphu to join the CPT in the forest (Interview with Kamnan Booncheut Wongnaphapaisan (Jouavue Sae Fa) 2014).

Following the outbreak of violence in Huai Chomphu, the Thai military started burning down other Hmong villages, such as nearby Pha Daeng, that they assumed to be under the influence of communist agents.
At first, the BPP sent a helicopter into the village and whisked away the headman without explanation.
Many Hmong assumed that he had been killed, although he was eventually released years later unharmed.
Until then, most people in Pha Daeng had never heard of communism, let alone the CPT, because operatives had not yet arrived in the village.
Once attacked, however, the people had nowhere to turn but the CPT, who encouraged them to fight (Interview with Lo Meng Fa 2016).

Before long, most of the Hmong villages in that part of northern Thailand had been forced into the forest following pre-emptive attacks by the BPP and the Thai regular military.


Source: Baird. The Hmong and the Communist Party of Thailand
 

DavidFL

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The heavy handed ruthless tactics and the use of napalm only caused more people to defect to the other non-government communist side.

Whole villages in the mountains were forcibly moved into the valleys, and anyone who stayed behind must be a communist.

These actions caused a significant refugee movement from Nan and Chiang Rai back into Laos.
Those of fighting age who remained behind would snipe and lay traps for the Thai army forces.

In June of I968 the Thai army was bogged down. Their tactics had seen extremely heavy casualties but the situation had stabilised in Nan and Chiang Rai; however there were now 4,000 refugees in the two provinces, plus there were more fighting against them in the mountains.

In four months the BPP lost their physical presence in I5 key villages, I2 schools, and three development centres which were all inhabited by hill tribe people friendly to the BPP; plus they had almost 500 government casualties!

The statistics for violent clashes in the North confirmed the escalating crisis:
1967 = I9.
1968 = I08.
1969 = 1I2.

The violence continued in the North, & the Nan-Chiang Rai area was the first to 'go up in flames'.

In 1970 a collation of reports indicated a total of about 2,000 men under arms.
Chiang Rai: 600-650 men
Nan: 700-800
Uttaradit: I50
Mae Sot: 200
The tri-province (Loei / Petchabun / area: 52

8 June I970 @ Chiang Klang, three Thai employed by the United States Information Service were shot on the valley road 3 miles from town.

On I5 July 1970 @ R1155, the first fatal ambush took place on the Thoeng- Chiang Khong road R1155.

On 20 September @ the Governor of Chiang Rai was assassinated near Ban Saew in Chiang Saen district.
 
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