• Short Summary

    The Thai Government is meeting with mixed success in its fight against the insurrection of the Meo tribes in the north of the country.

  • Description

    Aerial view of fertile country (village)

    SV and CU Villagers winnowing crop (2 shots)

    SV and CU Villagers outside long house (5 shots)

    CU Captured weapons and Mao's Red book on display (2 shots)

    CU PAN Machine building road

    SV and CU Young men and boys practising with rifles (3 shots)

    SV AND CU Defector (Meo) being interrogated by army officials and govt. (3 shots)

    CU Defector

    SV AND CU Meo women with their children in village (mute shots)

    Initials ESP/1423 ESP/1508

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The Thai Government is meeting with mixed success in its fight against the insurrection of the Meo tribes in the north of the country.

    The central Government is only now stepping up its efforts to win back the support of the Meo tribes in the hostile mountainous region of the country's north. Communist cadres moved into the area about ten years ago and met with a great deal of success as they conducted lectures and then trained and armed the people.

    Observers say that part of that success was due to the years of neglect and injustice which the Meo tribes suffered at the hands of the central Thai Government.

    Thai reaction to the Communist threat has been, according to correspondents, slow. Many new roads have opened up the region - officially as part of the Government's development plan. But the new roads also enable the Government to send in troops much more easily than has previously been the case.

    The Government has also formed what are called village security teams. The scheme began five years ago, but has moved slowly. So far, only six-thousand people have been armed and trained and some critics are saying it was a case of too little, too late.

    Several hundred Meo tribesmen surrendered recently - an act hailed by the Government as evidence of its success in the area. However, others claimed that the Meos had surrendered because they were starving.

    SYNOPSIS: For centuries, the Thai people ignored this part of their country. They didn't want the north, with its mountains - and they didn't want anything to de with the tribes who lived there, so they ignored them. These people are Meo tribesmen - for many years they endured the neglect, and other injustices, meted out be the Thais living on the country's plains. When Communists cadres from Laos, North Vietnam and China moved in ten years, they listened - it seemed that at least the Communists cared about them.

    Angry and frustrated, the Meos were ripe for the lessons the Communists taught them. And, according to observers, the pep talks led to training, and the training to rebellion. And year by year, things got worse for the Thai Government, as the Communist grip on the area strengthened.

    These are some of the weapons captured from the Meo. They're U.S. left-overs from the second world war, believed to have been supplied by peking. but now, the Meos are being armed with better weapons, along with the famous little red book containing the thoughts o Chairman Mao Tse Tung.

    Thai Government reaction to it all has been slow. An immediate move has been the building of new roads in the north officially part of a development plan. But the road also happen to be the seat way to get to the enemy - or in this case, the Meo.

    The Government has also formed what are being called, village security teams. Under the scheme, started five years ago, only six-thousand people have so far been trained and armed. The Thais admit that this isn't many, but they point out that many more are being trained now, than in the past. Correspondents report that this seems to be true, but they also point out that critics feel it's a case of too little, too late.

    Recently, though, several hundred Meos surrendered to Government forces. The Government quickly hailed this as evidence of success, but some Thai officers said the tribesmen had turned themselves in because they were starving. If their crops had not failed, they said, the Meos would still be out there, fighting.

    Opinion is divided on how to deal with the Meo insurrection. It's generally felt that major reforms are needed to give the Meos a better chance to better themselves. However, correspondents report that this is not likely to happen. So, they say, the fighting will go on and it shows every likelihood of spreading.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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