In Part I of our special three-part series, “The Holy Man Rebellions from both sides of the Mekong,” Ian G. Baird described how the political dynamics between the French, the House of Champassak, and the Siamese all played a role in sparking sporadic millenarian movements in both the newly established French colony of Laos and the Bangkok-colonized Northeast of Siam. In this segment, Baird explains how the “holy men” of the period moved back and forth across the Mekong River, making it a significant cross-border set of events.
Prince Sapphasitthiprasong was the one who brought urban planning to Ubon Ratchathani. He might be called the father of modern Ubon. But he was also the one who launched the campaign against the Holy Man Rebellion in Trakan Phuet Phon District. The rebels were hopelessly outgunned and the crackdown led to the death of more than 300. A local historian and restaurant owner weighs in on how the people of Ubon Ratchathani remember this Bangkok-appointed governor.
In response to popular demand (on the Thai-language side), we are bringing our readers a new set of items on the Holy Man Rebellion, part of an effort to rediscover Isaan’s lost history. This time we explore the causes behind the uprising of Isaan people 121 years ago. Although the lives of 300 rebels were lost in Ban Saphue, Ubon Ratchathani, there’s no memorial, no museum, no sign that the community has once seen so many die all at once. The Isaan Record presents the Season 2 of “The Isaan Holy Man Rebellion” to commemorate the 121st anniversary of the brutal crackdown.
The Isaan Record and the Thai Democracy Advocates group arranged a screening of the movie “Cemetery of Splendour” in London to raise funds to recover the lost history of the “Holy Man Rebellion” in Isaan. When asked about the political situation in Thailand, the noted Thai independent direct Apichatpong Weerasethakul said he maintained the hope of seeing the new generation continued to push for reform of the Thai military and the monarchy.
The Thai-language side of The Isaan Record has been publishing a series on the “Holy Man Rebellion” of 1901-02. We are sharing select pieces to our English-language readers. In this article, Weerawat Somnoek looks at the most powerful weapon used in the “Isaan Phi Bun Rebellion” against the dominance of Bangkok. It was not their swords or spears, but their ballads that helped spread and strengthen a certain ideology among the oppressed that inspired them to stand up against authority.