Laos History

Old Jun 13th 2007, 5:04 pm
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Default Laos History

Laos History

Stone tools discovered in Huaphanh and Luang Prabang provinces attest
the presence of prehistoric man in its stage of hunters and gatherers
over the Lao territory since at least 40,000 years ago. Agriculturist
society seemed to appear during the 4th millenia BC as evidences have
been found by archeologists-jar burials and other kinds of sepulchres
have revealed a complex society in which Bronze objects appeared
around 1500 BC and iron tools were known since 700 BC. The proto
historic period is characterized by contacts with Chinese and Indian
civilisations. As a result between the fourth and eighth century.

Between the fourth and eighth century communities along the Mekong
River began to form into towships, so called muang. This development
culminated in the formation of the Lan Xang (Million Elephants)
Kingdom. In 1340 AD, Kind Fa Ngum led an army of 10,000 men in
conquests in all directions: to the south, as far as the Khmer border;
to the north as far as Sipsong Phanna (Yunnan, southwestern China), to
the east to the watershed of the Mekong and Red Rivers; to the
northwest as far as Chiang Saen Lanna; and westward to Korat-Dong
Phannaphay. King Fa Ngum established the mighty and glorious Kingdom
of Lan Xang in 1353. Meanwhile, he introduced Buddhism (Hinayana) into
the Kingdom, took the sacred Phra Bang Buddha image from the Khmer
Kingdom and installed it in Swa (now Luang Prabang).

Chao Ounheuane succeeded King Fa Ngum to the throne in 1373. In his 43
years reign, King Ounheuane maintained the territorial integrity of
the kingdom, which his father has united. After repelling an invasion
by Burmese feudalism, King Ounheuane conducted a population census,
which showed that there were 300.000 Tai Lao people and 400,000 people
of other ethnic groups. The census gave King Ounheuane the new name of
King Samsenethai, meaning "Three hundred thousand Tai people".

Throughout the fifteenth century, 14 monarchs ruled the Kingdom of Lan
Xang. In 1520 AD Prince Phothisarath ascended the throne, following
King Visounnarath. Prince Phothisarath was born in 1506 and married a
princess of Chiang Mai. In 1548, he made prince Sayasetthathirath King
of Chiang Mai (at that time the kingdom of Lanna was a sister kingdom
to Lan Xang). When, in the same year, King Phothisarath suddenly died,
Prince Sayasetthathirath returned to Swa to take the throne of the
kingdom of Lan Xang.

Between 1563 and 1565, King Sayasetthirath moved the capital from
Luang Prabang to Vientiane. In this same year, a Burmese army led by
Ba Ying Nong raided King Sayasetthathirath, but forced Chiang Mai and
Vientiane, to retreat. In 1569-1570 the Burmese made another attempt
and suffered another reverse, being forced again to retreat. "These
were the two victorious struggles (1563 and 1569) under the able
command of King Sayasetthathirath, a hero of national salvation
against the aggression of the Burmese feudalism, then a strong enemy.
There were continued uprisings and struggles of the masses over the
last 24 years of the sixteenth century against the yoke of vassalage
of Burmese feudalism, including the overthrow of a throne under
Burmese vassalage (1579).

After the reign of King Sayasetthathirath, the Kingdom of Lan Xang
fell into chaos for years before Prince Sourignavongsa assumed the
throne in 1637. He reigned for 57 years, during that time the Kingdom
of Lan Xang was at peace. The Kingdom also began to open up for trade
with the rest of the world. Education and literature developed
noticeably, and the most outstanding works of poetry and literature of
the Kingdom of Lan Xang were created during this period.

The eighteenth century brought the decline of the Lan Xang monarchy.
The Kingdom split into three hostile dynasties and was invaded and
controlled by Siamese feudalism. However, the Lao people maintained
their unity, frequently rebelling against Siamese dominance. The most
outstanding movement was the nation wide campaign in 1827-1828 led by
King Anouvong, a national hero. Through the uprising was quelled, the
movement was a significant page in Lao history in the case of national
defence and has ever been remembered as such.

Between 1828 and 1829 Siamese forced 100,000 Lao people to cross the
Mekong River and resettled as prisoners of war. The Siamese ransacked
and burned 6,000 houses in the capital, stealing valuable from all
temples in Vientiane (except Sisaket temple). They also took the
Emerald Buddha to Bangkok where it remains till today.

In 1870 King Ounkham ascended the throne of the Luang Prabang dynasty
of the Kingdom of Lane Xang. In the late 19th century, as foreigners
expanded their colonies, the country was plunged into darkness. In
1893, Laos (on the east bank of the Mekong River) was captured by the
French army. And the west bank has remained isaan park of Thailand.
King Sackarin reigned from 1888 to 1903, and was succeeded by King

In the early 20th century, heedless of the subservience of the
privileged classed to foreign rule, the Lao people of various ethnic
groups rose in waves against French colonialism. Some resistance
movements were quite large-scale.

Some outstanding examples include:

- The movement of the Lao people in the central region under the
guidance of Father Kadouad (Pau Kadouad) (1901-1902);
- The 36-year uprising of the people in the south (1901-1937) led by
Ong Keo and Ong Komadam;
- The resistance movement of the Hmong ethnic group in the north led
by Chao Fa Padchay (1918-1922);
- The Tai-Lue movement in Meuang Sing (now Luang Namtha Province)
- The Red Tai movement in Samneua (Houaphanh Province) (1916).

In 1930, the Communist Party of Indochina was established and led by
President Ho Chi Minh. This marked the turning point in the history of
the revolutions in the three Indochinese countries. From then onwards,
under the leadership of the genuine Marxist Leninist party and under
the banner of nationalism and democracy, the revolutionary struggle of
the Lao people of all ethnic groups entered a new period of sure new

In 1945, the Red Army of the Soviet Union defeated the German, Italian
and Japanese Nazis, forcing them to surrender unconditionally, ending
the Second World War. Our Party resolutely led the people's struggle
in co-ordination with the August revolution of the Vietnamese people,
seized administrative power from the Japanese fascists and the French
colonialists, and declared to the world the independence of Laos on 12
October, 1945."

Not long after that, the French colonialists sent their mercenary and
henchmen to raid and occupy towns, suppressing the Lao people cruelly,
and restoring French control. They pretended to hand over "
independence" to Laos in 1949 and formed a puppet army. They tied the
three Indochinese countries together under the "French Union of
Indochina" rule over by the Governor General and the Commander of the
French Union Army.

On 20 January 1949, the Lao Issara Unit was set up, which later became
the Lao People's Liberation Army.

On 13 August,1950, a national Congress of the Lao Resistance Front
agreed to set up the Neo Lao Issara (Free Lao Front), laid out a 12-
point political programme, and set up a resistance government with
Kayson Phomvihane as Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense.
The resistance movement of the Lao people developed to a new level.

In 1953, the armed forces of Pathet Lao in collaboration with the
Vietnamese volunteer army launched a series of battles, which
liberated vast areas of the country: Samnuea, Xiengkhouang,
Khammouane, Attapeu, Boliven Plateau. In early 1956, the northernmost
Phongsaly Province and most of Luang Prabang Province were liberated
by the victory in Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam), this forced the French
imperialists to sign the 1954 Geneva Accord to restore peace in
Indochina, and to acknowledge the independence, sovereignty, unity and
territorial integrity of Lao, Vietnam and Cambodia. The Accord further
acknowledges the legitimate position of the Lao revolutionary forces
and the status of the province of Phongsaly and Samneua as the
concentration zone of the Pathet Lao forces.

Not long after the signing of the Geneva Accord, the American
imperialists, who had been involved in the Indochina War from the
outset., jumped in, kicked the French out, and invaded Laos. The US
had forced the French to sign an US-France joint communiqu� in
Washington on 29 September 1954, as a legal basis for direct US
assistance. The document also allowed the US to take over from the
French in training the Royal Army of the Kingdom of Laos, and the
armies of South Vietnam and Combodia.

The situation worsened during the Vietnam war although the Geneva
accord of 1962 had recognised the neutrality of Laos and forbade the
presence of all foreign military perssonel. By bombing the portion of
the Ho Chi Minh trail crossing Laos, US forces dropped more bombs on
Laos than they did world-wide during World War II. On a per capita
basis Laos is hence the most heavily bombed nation in history.
Especially in Huaphanh and Xieng Khuang provinces, where international
teams are still clearing the terrain of unexploded ordinance, people
still suffer from the legacy of the war.

It took 20 years of struggle against US imperialism before the Lao
people of all ethnic groups could rid themselves of the yoke of
foreign domination, abolish backward feudalism, and proudly and
gloriously establish a new regime, the regime of Lao people's
democracy on 2nd December 1975. At present the multi ethnic Lao people
are making afforts to defend and develop Laos in line with the new
policy of the Party and Government in order to lead the country to
progress and prosperity.


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