In Part 1 of this article, Russell Chapman looked at how the youth-led protests over the last few years revived the idea of Isaan as a regional entity. The spark was the dissolution of the Future Forward Party. The network continues after a year and a half, but will the spark sputter out, or can the rise of Isaan become a key part of bringing democracy to Thailand?
Youth-led protests in the last two years did more than shake Thailand’s military-dominated government: they also expanded many Isaan people’s imagination. A legacy of discrimination, exploitation, and marginalization inspired a new vision of the region under the banner of the Khong Chi Mun People’s Group. In his debut, two-part feature, Russell Chapman asks the question: Has Isaan finally awakened from its 60-year political slumber?
When Siamese soldiers crushed the Holy Man Rebellion and scoured the area for escaped rebels, terrified locals sought refuge in temples while others turned to local spirits for protection. A local chief who became an executioner of rebels bore a ring of black which returned to black even when scratched. Had the ring absorbed the malice of its bearer and the dark crimes he committed? Was he the “Sauron of Isaan”? Guest contributor Janista Aphasaengphet investigates, with photos by The Isaan Record intern, Tatiya Trachu.
Soon, communities along railroad tracks in Khon Kaen will be forced to leave to make way for the construction of a high-speed train railway that connects Korat and Nong Khai. There is still no plan to relocate the more than 700 families residing in its way. The Isaan Record memorializes the people of Mittraphap community in this shortening period before they vanish.
Residents are rallying against a proposed 4,000-rai bioeconomy project in Ban Phai district of Khon Kaen. The major concern is that the project might turn the area into a new pollution hotspot as in Rayong’s industrial estate Map Ta Phut. The project and its potential effects have aroused concerns that the environment might be damaged and the historical heritage of the ancient town, Mueang Phia, might suffer destruction.
“I’m afraid of COVID-19, but I’m more afraid of starving.” These words from an Isaan sex worker who decided to keep working at Surat Thani’s Samui Island despite high infection rates. Although aware of the risk, as household breadwinners they have been left no choice but to accept the risk. Guest contributor Min Thalufa reports from Samui Island about the struggle of Isaan women in the era of COVID-19.
As the demand grows to amend or repeal Article 112, Thailand’s lese majeste law, so too does the number of people being charged with the offense. It remains controversial whether certain actions, such as burning the king’s portrait, can be construed as a violation under this law.
"People are scared to express themselves because of this law. Writers are afraid to mention it, even in fiction, if it’s related to the king or the royal family"Teerapol Anmai, academic and artist criticized about Article 112.
A young man from Udon chooses suicide rather than enter military service. The military draft law favors those with an education. Every year are stories of torture and death of new recruits. Isn’t it time to reconsider the military draft?
Many activists have been charged with Thailand’s lese majeste law, Section 112 of the criminal code, over the last few months. Some people see the words and behavior—such as seen in a mock fashion show—as violating the law. The Isaan Record examines how a number of these activists fell afoul of the law.