As Winnie the Pooh would have said, "tsk, tsk. Looks like war in Th After years' searching for Western concern or even knowledge of the Isaan, I wrote this blog like a Tom Cruise movie. I thought more people might read it. In the first week, besides the usual barrage of hate and solicitations for money, I got asked... "where the movie playing is???" Hahahaha! I'm still laughing! But I do have to start by saying, Jedi friends, it's not fiction! Here's a short BBC video on the last military coup in Thailand, and the original blog is below: it's all true, and there's no better place for me to stop. This is the last blog on Yofiel.
1. Mission Impossible: Isaan Nation
Hello friend. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to counter militant Maoists, a small immigrant minority known as 'redshirts,' in Thailand's Isan region. The redshirts are now planning to dupe the indigenous Buddhist 'yellowshirts' into voting for them at Thailand's next general elections in February 2019. If successful, they plan to make an independent Isaan nation, then invade Cambodia and Laos. If they don't win the election, the redshirts will try to start a civl war. Almost no one knows this covert threat. Just like the successful Maoist takeover of Nepal in 2008, it will take the world by surprise. This is the only American report on the Isan region since an article raising the threat by Time Magazine in 2014. But unlike the prior surprise in Nepal, international war is rather inevitable if the redshirts succeed in Thailand.
2. The Security ThreatThe current crisis started In 2013. Previously, Thailand's President had been improving the standard of living in all of Isan, where at least 1 in 4 have already dropped out by the end of Middle school. Maoist redshirts sought to depose the President using unproven claims of corruption. Widespread bloodshed sputtered across Thailand as Buddhist yellowshirts believed the redshirt accusations. Not wanting the killing to continue, the President eventually resigned. The redshirts took over the largest city in the Isan region, Udon Thani, and consolidated their control there.
But still unknown to almost everyone in the USA, the Isan region's takeover had been planned long before that, at least since 2009. The redshirts had been hoping that Isan would secede as a nation in 2013, when the violence leading to the last President's ousting started. At that time they were already prepared for military conquest of Laos and Cambodia, as shown by this surveillance photo from 2010.
The Northeast Thai region which the redshirts now control is about the size of Germany, and home to 22 million. The redshirts are striving for secession of their region of control from Thailand, to create an independent Isan nation. Consequential international war now presents a very real threat to world security.
|Thailand's Isan region (pink) contains only one third of the Isaan race. The other two thirds of these peaceful Theraveda Buddhists, totaling 67 million, are in Northern Cambodia and Southern Laos, directly bordering the Isan region. If the redshirts successfully take control and make an independent Isaan nation, either democratically or by force, they will naturally try to expand their empire into neighboring countries.|
2.1. Impossible to Copy: Resisting Violence with Flowers
It appears impossible for peaceful Buddhists to stop violence, but yellowshirts have had astounding successes. During Thailand's 2009 unrests, a friend called saying there were soldiers barricading the street outside her apartment building. She asked what to do. After suggesting giving flowers to the soldiers, she told her boyfriend to do it. Much to the surprise of many, no one was hurt during the subsequent protest, and the prior violence stopped.
During Thailand's 2014 conflicts, Muslims emulated the flower gift, but violence continued. There were 28 deaths and over 800 injuries. As a result, some now question the effectiveness of this method for ending hostilithy. But the reason the Muslims didn't stop violence is, when they gave flowers to soldiers, they were smiling like it was a party. Yet in 2009, the man was scared to hell his girlfriend would get hurt. And thats why it worked. He never complained about it either. He just did it. What a brave man.
2.2. Mission Objective: Ending Redshirt Oppression
In 2014, the violence in Thailand finally stopped after 6 months. Some say it was as much because the monsoon season was starting, rather than the President actually resigning. But the redshirts had obtained their goal. They entrenched power in Udon Thani, now acting as the Isan region's capital. Then the redshirts slowly cut off much National aid, and all foreign aid, from reaching the indigenous Buddhists who live in the remote but densely populated Isan provinces beyond.
The redshirt plan, revealed in Time Magazine, is to increase poverty throughout the rest of the region and blame the Central government for it, so they can gather support for declaring independence from Thailand. If they don't win the elections in 2019, they will try to start a civil war.
So far the redshirt plan is succeeding. Already, there are no foreign agencies dedicated to basic Isan needs. The village homes often have no flushing toilets. Children do not even finish Middle school because they have to work for their families. Overall, 1 in 4 children do not go to high school in Thailand, and in its poorest Isan region, the rate is higher. The exact amount of child labor is not currently measured.
Due to language barriers and absence of dedicated foreign charities, there is no way for an American to work with plumbers and sanitation officials to put flushing toilets in Isan village homes. The situation is dire.
So far, the peaceful-minded Buddhists have continued in their traditional ways, never complaining, perhaps hoping to keep an ox at most. Yet because they say nothing of their sorry condition, and with dozens of local languages, no one learns how much they are being exploited and manipulated, including the Buddhists themselves. Due to lack of education, when they are told they would be better off under a redshirt regime, they will just believe what they are told. They have no way to learn that the redshirts are causing the yellowshirt poverty intentionally. The redshirts have taken control of the region. As its ties with the rest of the world continue to sever, the redshirts are taking control of its communication too.
Thus, there's only one direction for their future: worse.
In the week after first publishing this blog, Thailand announced foreign observers would not be allowed during the election; the Amnesty International demanded that all restrictions to free speech be lifted.
2.3. Mission Failure: Disavowed by Charities
American charities totally ignore these concerns for the Isan region and only ask for donations to their own causes. So its been necessary to adopt Tom Cruise's tactics, who 'does all his own stunts,' to bring about more awareness of the problem. This agent has been disavowed.
2.4. Mission Failure: Disavowed from Marriage
Other attempts to improve Isan wealth, such as offering to pay dowries for Isan girls to marry richer boys their own age in the USA, have been equally disavowed. Marriage is unjustly rejected in the USA as exploitive prostitution, particularly by feminists here, who condemn dowries as an excuse for sex slavery. In fact, Isan parents rarely insist on dowries because they'd rather the couples have money themselves. But by tradition, the eldest daughter stays at home to look after parents in their old age, so when foreigners marry in, they inherit that responsibility. On two dollars a day, they cant buy social security like Americans do, so there's no real alternative. Usually, the husbands can't get the parents into the USA, so they send money to the parents instead, or if wealthy enough, move to Thailand. It's expensive to support the parents, and so Thai women often seek older men, because they have more money, and therefore, it's more likely for them to be able to live together in Thailand.
But when marriages with Isan women do occur in the USA, the spouses are socially condemned as mail-order brides, communists, sex slaves, pedophiles, etc, even with consent of all parents, with both spouses over 18, and last but especially not least, Thailand being a democracy. Isan women do not naturally have the defense mechanisms to cope with the severe hostility and emotional violence in the USA. Whatever they planned, wives of Americans typically retreat, taking the children back to Thailand to care for them. About half the couples divorce, but even so, the father continues to work overseas, earning more money for them, and visits them when he can. It is a sad situation. Absentee fatherhood is not good for children, and because of limited vacation in the USA, fathers can't be with their family more than 3 weeks a year.
The continuing social rejection of Thai marriages in America is particularly unfortunate because it is the only way that people could really learn about Theraveda culture. Too many are too keen to hurl accusations of sex scams, spurt religious prejudice, propagate political hatred, and scorn misunderstood traditions that the actual plight of the poor Isan people in their own homeland is totally ignored. The extraordinary art, extensive myths, and deep spiritual nature of the Theraveda Buddhists, on which this report can only briefly touch, are all virtually unknown in the USA. The pervasive ignorance is only overshadowed by vehement spite. When not ignored, the pervasive response is ridicule or arrogant scorn.
2.5. Mission Failure: Disavowed by USA
For a long time, overseas marriage has been the only significant source of foreign financial support in Isan. Now that revenue, and the communication possible from cultural intermingling, is being cut off too. Prior to 2014, there were studies of the revenue amount on the Web, but now they have disappeared. In 2010, the New York Times reported 11,000 foreign husbands were living in Isan. The number of absentee fathers is now unknown.
Even if not for marriage, it has become increasingly impossible for yellowshirts to visit America at all. In the past, affidavits of support from Americans were accepted, but now the Thai are expected to bring in $200/day of their own money. If they don't have that much money themselves, with proof they earned it themselves, their visa applications are simply rejected without explanation, so there is no mechanism for appeal. No yellowshirt ever has that much money to travel overseas, and no way around it.
Due to increased nationalism, tourism to the USA is now only regarded to be of value as a source of revenue, rather than a source of cultural exchange. Policies resulting from this attitude have not only increased alienation, but also are perpetuating ignorance.
Recently, for example, the girl whose boyfriend gave flowers to the soldiers in 2009 broke up with him. it seemed an obviously good thing to pay for her to visit America on a vacation visa, so she could share her experience in stopping violence. When she took all required bank statements and affidavit of support to the US Embassy, they rejected her application, and when she asked why, simply told her to leave. She was very upset, particularly because it had been difficult for her to accept money from someone else at all, and she had been been preparing the application for months, paying as much of it herself as she could. While she was leaving, some Americans there openly laughed at her for looking so upset. She was reduced to tears.
3. Agent's Remaining Strategy
After being directed to the mission of saving Thai Buddhist culture by a Rinpoche, who admired his work to help in the Mustang district of Nepal, this report now comprises the only action possible without actually dieing. With all other options exhausted, and after finding no other way to circumvent redshirt control, giving all the money at death to Thailand’s royal family has become the only remaining option for this agent of peace. By asking the royal family's charities to train schoolteachers is Isan, it puts more people through college with real work afterwards; it increases the number of people who will not be duped by redshirt promises; and it increases the amount of potential skilled workers in the future.
Buddhist tradition especially expects royalty to care for the people in this way, accounting for the frequent Thai declarations of outright love and respect for the King and his family. When the last King died, Thai people openly wept for days. The agent tried comforting over 100 people that the King had been in pain for a long time before passing away, so the King is now in a better place for himself. Few were consoled, stating they could not help missing the knowledge that their long-ruling King was no longer there to watch over them. The grief lasted for months. Hence, providing the money to the royal family charities also improves national integrity, reducing the risk of secession and improving security to Cambodia and Laos.
This agent has presented the facts in the most truthful yet entertaining way possible. But this agent is not able to do anything more. Now with cancer, this agent cannot fly in airplanes, and so cannot get to Thailand before he dies.
3.1. Mission Accomplished: Saving the Culture
With the sudden increase in Nationalism over the last three years, most Americans are now too busy hating each other to consider the lives of 22 million poor on the other side of the world, and frequently say so. The alienation is extremely sad, because there are many beautiful things that Americans could learn even from the simplest of the Theraveda laypeople, most of all, their wondrous perspective on reality. For example, if you sent the following proverb to a friend in Isan, you might bet back a picture like this:
Perhaps there are some things they could learn from us; but even if you are a Buddhist scholar, and told them that their proverb "First fill the empty bucket with innocence" refers to filling the mind, rather than the bucket, they could well laugh and ask something like 'is my mind a bucket?'
If I were asked that in a philosophical debate, I would clarify that the bucket only exists as empty within the mind (as any Buddhist monk knows). But in the company of Theraveda laypeople, I'd just be laughing with them.
Yes, I actually said it. Mission accomplished. Now it's just waiting for the elections...
3.2. Should you Choose to Accept your Mission
There will be no other public messages here. The rest is up to you. Currently, there is nothing else that can be done. The fate of Thailand is now in your hands. Good luck. This message may self destruct at any time due to attacks by hostiles.
With thanks to Tom Cruise for his yellowshirt picture.
- Education in Thailand, Wikipedia
- A Thai Region Where Husbands Are Imported, New York Times, 24 Sep 2010
- Solving Isaan’s Education Problem, Isaan Record, 12 Dec, 2011.
- 2013–2014 Thai political crisis, Wikipedia.
- If There's Going to Be a Thai Civil War, Isaan Will Be Its Front Line, Time Magazine, July 2, 2014.
- Thailand: the civil war the world is ignoring, Alberto Forchelli, Jan 30, 2017.
- Farang Marriage Training Clinic Coming to Isaan Ikhaosodenglish blog, 29 Jun 2018.