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Communist Insurgency in Thailand
Part of Cold War
File:Ta_ko_bi.jpg
Ta Ko Bi Cave, a former base of communist rebels.
Date 1965–83
Location Thailand
Result Government victory
Belligerents
 Thailand
United States [1]
Flag of the Communist Party of Thailand.svg Communist Party of Thailand
Thai United Patriotic Front

Supported by:
 North Vietnam
 China
Flag of Laos.svg Pathet Lao [1][2]


Commanders and leaders
Thailand Chavalit Yongchaiyudh
Thailand Prem Tinsulanonda
Flag of the Communist Party of Thailand.svg Udom Srisuwan
Flag of the Communist Party of Thailand.svg Phayom Chulanont
Flag of the Communist Party of Thailand.svg Damri Ruangsutham  (POW)

Flag of the Communist Party of Thailand.svg Wirat Anghathawon  (POW)
Flag of the Communist Party of Thailand.svg Thong Chaemsri  (POW)

Strength
127,700 Emblem of the Royal Thai Armed Forces HQ.svg Royal Thai Armed Forces
45,800 Emblem of Royal Thai Police.png Royal Thai Police and Paramilitary
24,470 United States Armed Forces [1]
5,000 – 8,000 [2]
Casualties and losses
> 1,450 killed
>100 wounded [3]
> 200 killed
> 30 wounded [3]

The Communist insurgency in Thailand was a guerrilla war lasting from 1965 to 1983, involving the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and the Thai government.

Backgound[edit | edit source]

In 1927, Chinese communist Han Minghuang attempted to create a communist organization in Bangkok before being arrested.[3] Ho Chi Minh visited north Thailand the following year, attempting to organize Soviets in the local Vietnamese communities.[3] In the aftermath of the Siamese revolution of 1932, conservative prime minister Pya Manopakorn accused his political opponent, Pridi Panomyong, of being a communist and shortly afterwards a law was passed criminalising communism.[3]

During World War II communists formed an alliance with the Free Thai Movement. In 1946, Pridi Panomyong assumed office, repealing the Anti-Communist Act of 1933 and establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.[3] In 1960, North Vietnam created a training camp for Thai and Laotian volunteers in Hoa Binh province. A total of 400 people attended the camp in its first year of operation.[3]

In 1949, Pridi Phanomyong's attempt to return to power after the 1947 coup d'état was crushed. The suppression of the Palace Rebellion convinced the CPT leadership that better preparation must be made in order for a future rebellion to succeed.[4]

The failure of the 1952 Peace Rebellion was followed by the 13 November 1952 Anti-Communist Act.The act was sparked by the spontaneous involvement of a small number of communist party members in the rebellion.[4]

During the course of the Korean War, CPT continued to stockpile weaponry in rural areas and make general preparations for armed struggle.At the same time CPT formed the Peace Committee of Thailand, a pacifist movement operating mainly in urban areas.The Peace Committee contributed to CPT's expansion and the rise of anti-American sentiment in the country.[4]

Ideologically, the CPT aligned with Maoism and during the Sino-Soviet split the party sided with the Communist Party of China. In October 1964, the organization declared its position in a congratulatory message on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China,[2] and the following month a group of Thai communists formed the Thailand Independence Movement in Peking, China.[3]

On 8 December 1964, the Thailand Independence Movement issued a manifesto demanding the removal of U.S. military personnel from Thailand and calling for a regime change. The manifesto was later also broadcast by Radio Peking.[3] Former Thai army officer Phayon Chulanont established the Thai Patriotic Front, another Thai communist organization, on 1 January 1965.[3] The two parties formed the Thai United Patriotic Front on 15 December 1966. Hill tribesmen, as well as the Chinese and Vietnamese ethnic minorities, formed the backbone of the movement.[3]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

In 1961, small groups of Pathet Lao insurgents infiltrated north Thailand. Local communist party cells were organized and volunteers were sent to Laotian and Chinese training camps.[1] Between 1961 and 1965 insurgents carried out 17 political assassinations, although they avoided full scale guerrilla warfare until the summer of 1965 when militants began engaging Thai security forces. A total of 13 clashes were recorded during that period.[1] The second half of 1965 was marked by a further 25 violent incidents,[1] and starting in November 1965, Communist Party of Thailand insurgents began undertaking more elaborate operations, including an ambush on a Thai police patrol outside Mukdahan, in Nakhorn Phanom province.[3]

The insurgency spread to other parts of Thailand in 1966, although 90% of insurgency related incidents occurred in the north-east of the country.[1] On 14 January 1966, a spokesman representing the Thai Patriotic Front called for the start of a "people's war" in Thailand. The statement marked an escalation of violence in the conflict, and in early April 1966 rebels killed 16 Thai soldiers and wounded 13 others during clashes in Chiengrai province.[3] A total of 45 security personnel and 65 civilians were killed by insurgent attacks during the first half of 1966.[3]

Despite insurgent attacks on United States Air Force bases located in Thailand, US involvement in the conflict remained limited.[1]

In February and August 1967, the Thai government conducted a number of counter insurgency raids in Bangkok and Thonburi, arresting 30 CPT members including secretary-general Thong Chaemsri.[3] Further arrests ensued in October and November 1968.[3]

The Thai government deployed over 12,000 troops to the country's northern provinces in January 1972, carrying out a six-week operation in which over 200 militants were killed. The government's casualties during the operation amounted to 30 soldiers killed and 100 wounded.[3]

On 6 October 1976, amidst rising fears of a communist takeover similar to the one that had taken place in Vietnam, anti-communist police and paramilitaries attacked a leftist student demonstration at the Thammasat University, in Bangkok, during an incident that became known as the Thammasat University massacre. According to official estimates, a total of 46 students were killed and 167 wounded.[5]

Efforts to end the insurgency led to an amnesty being declared on 23 April 1980 when Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda signed the Order 66/2523. The order significantly contributed to the decline of the insurgency, and by 1983 it had come to an end.[6]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "Communist Insurgency In Thailand". CIA Report. http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/89801/DOC_0000012498.pdf. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Anatomy of a Counterinsurgency Victory". January 2007. http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/milreview/marks.pdf. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 "The Communist Insurgency In Thailand". Marine Corps Gazette. March 1973. https://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/communist-insurgency-thailand. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Takahashi Katsuyuki. "How did the Communist Party of Thailand extend a United Front?". http://sydney.edu.au/southeast-asia-centre/documents/pdf/takahashi-katsuyuki.pdf. Retrieved 7 December 2014. 
  5. Handley, Paul M. The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10682-3, p. 236.
  6. Bunbongkarn, Suchit (2004). "The Military and Democracy in Thailand". In R.J. May & Viberto Selochan. The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific. ANU E Press. pp. 52–54. ISBN 1920942017. http://press.anu.edu.au//mdap/mobile_devices/ch03s05.html. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 

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