August 23, a day of national pride

The overturning of the old administration on Uprising Day, or administrative power seizure day, on August 23, 1975, and the declaration of independence on October 12, 1945, were two major historic events for Laos after the country had been under foreign control for the past century.
The two events opened up a new era for people from all walks of life, enabling them to join the fight against foreign aggressors and strive for national liberation.
These triumphs were due to the excellent leadership of the Indochinese Communist Party, and proved to be a victory of solidarity for the three Indochinese countries.
The victory gave the Lao Party and Lao people increased confidence about their ability to fight the re-invasion by former colonialists and rebel against interference by new colonialists.
Laos had previously enjoyed great security and had been safe from invaders for thousands of years.
In the 14th century, Chao Fa Ngum united Lao cities to create the Lanexang Kingdom, which enjoyed unity, strength and the development of arts and culture.
In the 16th century, the Lanexang Kingdom was invaded and was subjugated to foreign aggressors.
At the end of the 19th century, Laos was invaded by former colonialists and the country’s treasures were looted. The Lao people were heavily oppressed and became enslaved. 

Vientiane residents attend the uprising rally on August 23, 1975. (File photo)

But buoyed up by patriotism, abhorrence of the foreign aggressors and the slavery imposed upon them by the old colonialists, the Lao people were determined not to be enslaved again. Various heroes emerged to lead them in the fight against these foreign aggressors.
Notable struggles included the fight by Savannakhet residents against the old colonialists, led by Phorkaduad from 1901-1903. In the south, an uprising was led by Ongkeo and Ongkommadam from 1901-1937, while in the north the Hmong, led by Chao Fapatchay, engaged in insurrection from 1918-1922 following an uprising by the Leu tribe in Sing district from 1914-1918.
In Vientiane, Teacher Kham led the people to revolt in 1920, and there were other struggles for freedom which have not been documented.
After the Indochinese Communist Party was established on February 3, 1930, led by President Ho Chi Minh, the Party set up a tactical strategy for fighting against the aggressors and gradually became more politically based. When the Second World War ended, Vietnam declared independence on September 2, 1945.
The Vietnamese overthrew their oppressors in August and announced independence on September 2, 1945.
In Laos, the Lao Regional Party Committee mobilised people of all classes to seize power from the Vientiane government on August 23, 1945.
In Vientiane, there were various significant power seizures on this day, including an uprising by 500 workers at the Kabpha factory, before more than 10,000 people took part in a rally.
Soon after, the seizure of power spread to the provinces and a revolutionary administrative power was established. There were seizures of power in Savannakhet province on August 30, in Thakhaek district, Khammuan province, on September 1, and in Xamneua district, Huaphan province, on August 26. 
In 1945, the allied forces including those of the Russian Red Army defeated the Germans, Italians and Japanese, forcing them to surrender unconditionally, ending the Second World War.
Meanwhile, the Lao people worked with Vietnamese youth to overthrow the old administrative power and establish revolutionary power in various areas.
Defence forces were established in the main towns including Vientiane, Thakhaek, Savannakhet, Xieng Khuang, Xamneua and Luang Prabang.  After that, the Lao Issara government was formed and declared national independence in front of the public on October 12, 1945.
This was a historic victory for Laos and a milestone in the fight for independence and freedom. It was also the first time that the Lao people threw off the yoke of the old colonialists and the feudal regime that had governed Laos for many centuries, and signalled the start of a new regime.
The independence declaration liberated Laos’ full territorial integrity, denounced the old regime and revoked all previous agreements that Laos had signed with France.
A temporary constitution was declared, while a national anthem and a three-coloured flag were introduced. A temporary government committee (Lao Issara government) was established.
The years 1954–63 saw periodic fighting for the defence of the two stronghold provinces of Phongsaly and Huaphan.
From 1964 to 1973, a new enemy dropped 260 million cluster bombs – about 2.5 million tons of munitions – on Laos over the course of 580,000 bombing missions. This was equivalent to a planeload of bombs being unloaded every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years – nearly seven bombs for every man, woman and child in Laos. Most of the devices dropped were cluster bombs, of which an estimated 30 percent did not detonate. This unrelenting assault made Laos the most heavily bombed nation per capita in world history.
From 1973-75 fighting took place throughout the country to secure national liberation.
In 1975, a Party Central Committee Meeting planned the direction of the struggle for the final triumph of the revolutionary forces. This included three strategies: the uprising of the masses, the supporting of revolutionary forces, and the removal of enemy forces.
Under the Party’s leadership, an increasing number of people from all classes, in both the enemy-controlled zone and the neutral zone, rose up against the old regime.
These included government officials, merchants, monks, soldiers and police, who all joined the revolutionary movement to stamp out the old administration.
Historic events included an uprising by workers at Electricite du Laos in Vientiane, a 42-day revolt by the residents of Nongbok district in Khammuan province, the uprising of students in Vientiane, and the defection of Battalion 102 from the Vientiane administration to the coalition government.
In support of the mass movement, military forces took control of strategic areas in Vientiane, Savannakhet province, and Pakxe in Champassak province. 
This show of force bound by the solidarity among people in Vientiane and other parts of the country culminated in the declaration of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on December 2, 1975, and the removal of the royal regime. Uprising Day is meaningful for Lao people from all walks of life and is the fruit of the revolution. It was an achievement of bravery and invention, of three strategies for the seizure of power without the sound of gunshots.
It was a triumph of correct revolutionary guidelines and the excellent leadership of the Party to use Marxist and Leninist theory in a practical situation. It was the triumph of the solidarity of the Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese people in fighting together against a common enemy.
To mark Uprising Day this year, government bodies are organising various activities, including sports competitions, cultural performances and blood donations.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update August 24, 2018)

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