The Isaan Record
The Thai military prohibited discussants at a public forum in Isaan, Thailand’s northeast, to talk about politics, referendum, and the lèse majesté law. The authorities however ironically allow them to talk about human right issues only.
While Europe worries about trafficking and the so-called refugee crisis, Thai villagers are still building their hopes on women’s migration and labor abroad. Isaan-natives Sommai, Basit, Kae and Mong are married to Danish men and are all living in Denmark where they work as cleaners, in the fishing industry or other
Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Thi Khon Kaen) is filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s love letter to his native province, as well as a subtly bitter political statement on Northeast-Capital relations.
Among a wilderness of green shrubbery, Somkit Singsong sat in front of a small clay hut outside his village in Khon Kaen province. Sporting a beard akin to Vietnamese revolutionary leaders, Somkit recounted the days when there was a bounty on his head. “They came for me at the crack of dawn. Helicopters with spotlights hovered over the village. They wanted to kill me,” he said calmly.
SAKON NAKHON – The ongoing clash between the government’s forest reclamation policy and community land rights in the Northeast came to a head on October 21st. Standing before the provincial court in Sakon Nakhon Province, nine villagers from Jatrabiab village — each convicted with encroaching on protected forests — listened as the judge handed down their sentences.
KHON KAEN – In the Northeast, most people were always doubtful. They laughed at the reconciliation trainings that came to their villages. They mocked a constitution drafting process that purported to include their voices. Very few here believed that the military had any intention of swiftly returning Thailand to a democracy.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – On Monday morning, employees of the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Los Angeles and nearby pedestrians were greeted by protesters standing in support of the 14 students who were arrested in Bangkok on June 26.
In the draft constitution, there is no explicit mention of minorities or minority rights, making this constitution the only one in ASEAN to not have a provision for such rights.
In the debt-ridden Northeast, many rice farmers struggle to make ends meet after the government shut off the irrigation systems leaving them without the profits of the second annual rice crop. But for the military government, the drought might help its economic strategy.
KHON KAEN – In late January, about 250 Northeasterners from six provinces gathered at the conference room of the Petcharat Garden Hotel in Roi Et to participate in the drafting process of Thailand’s twentieth constitution. The military government claims to be seeking citizen participation in drafting the constitution, but these public forums to gather input from Thais across the country seem to be nothing but a false front in the Northeast.