Contesting Memories in the Hmong Thai Community: A Study of the “Red Meo” at Doi Yao-Phamon in Northern Thailand
The body of literature on leftist movements in Thailand contains only limited information about the Hmong as an active political group in the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) from the 1960s to the 1980s. Moreover, since the end of the Cold War, there has been no study that explores the so-called “Red Meo” despite the fact that the Thai government has put a great effort into development programs for this ethnic group. The present study focuses on the more recent “Red Meo” response of constructing a counter-memorial in honor of their own people who sacrificed their lives at the former battlefield, Doi Yao-Phamon, in northern Thailand. Data were collected primarily through ethnographic fieldwork from 2013 to 2015 along with secondary sources. The “Red Meo” are reinterpreting their involvement with the CPT as stemming from majority Thai and state oppression, hence, seeing their own struggle as a heroic fight against social injustice. This paper also examines how Doi Yao-Phamon has become a landscape of contested memories between the “Red Meo” and government officials. The paper argues that the emergence of a contested memory in this Hmong community is a form of soft fighting between the dominant majority Thai as presented by the Thai government and a dominated minority, the Hmong.
Keywords: Cold War, contesting memories, Doi Yao-Phamon, “Red Meo”, Hmong, rights and dignity
Cold War; contesting memories; Doi Yao-Phamon; “Red Meo”; Hmong; rights and dignity