EFFORTS TO END THE VIOLENCE IN THE MUSLIM SOUTH
On what he felt need to be done to imrpove the situation in the Muslim south, Kavi Chongkittavorn wrote in The Nation, “Eliminating ongoing grievances, expanding space for Malay cultural identity, improving quality of education and increasing employment, increasing local ownership and engaging community-based and civil society organisations as well as increasing diplomatic support, are key elements to end the violence and bring about the much needed national reconciliation in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.” The government “needs to engage strong-minded bureaucrats and security forces, reminding them without respect for local cultural identity, the trouble in the South will not end. For instance, the use of the Malay language in all public offices including hospitals, land registration offices in all districts of the three provinces must be implemented speedily.[Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, February 22, 2010]
According to the Thai government: “The attacks on innocent civilians, whether they are Muslim, Buddhist, or of any other faith, are equally abhorrent and affect the lives of everyone in the region. Security personnel have been deployed to protect the lives and livelihoods of local people. All violent incidents are investigated and prosecuted in the courts in accordance with criminal law. Telephone hotlines and centers to receive complaints have been set up at the district level. Throughout the military chain of command, strict orders have been issued at all levels to uphold the law and treat civilians, whether they are suspected perpetrators of violence or not, with dignity and justice. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department]
The Royal Thai Government treats any allegations of wrongdoing or abuses by security personnel with the seriousness it deserves, and all reports are investigated without exception in accordance with the rule of law and judicial process. The procedure may take time, but the judicial process must be allowed to take its course. Apart from ensuring justice, the Thai government now focuses on a development-led approach in eradicating poverty, improving education, and providing greater opportunities for local people. It also considers the resolving of the southern situation one of the country’s national priorities. While officials will not create any conditions that might be used by perpetrators as a pretext to initiate acts of violence, any misunderstandings about the southern situation must be cleared up both domestically and internationally.
In 2010, a $220 million, three-year development package was approved by the "mini-cabinet for the South." On how that money should be spent Kavi Chongkittavorn wrote: “There is an urgent need to allocate these funds to community-based and civil society organisations with a bottom up approach. Past practices of providing funds directly to various ministries, which often led to corruption, are no longer working. Other stakeholders must take part in community decision making. [Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, February 22, 2010]
Situation in the Muslim South in Thailand in the 2010s
On the state of the crisis in the Muslim south at the end of 2012, Srisompob Jitpiromsri wrote on DeepSouthWatch: “ At present, it is widely acknowledged that the violence in the deep south has entered into the protracted state, and it seems quite clear that there have been attempts to make "qualitative violence" an evident truth, i.e. the frequency and intensity of violence would remain stable, while the quality of the violence, namely the number of casualties and the image of violence would increase and become more prominent. [Source: Srisompob Jitpiromsri, DeepSouthWatch, Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD), Prince of Songkla University Pattani Campus, December 23, 2012]
“From 2007 until recently, the frequency of violence had decreased from the initial level. However, from early 2012 onwards, it is noticeable that the pattern of southern violence has become ever more complex and intense. Thus during these first 9 months of 2012, there have been many shocking events and the number of events in certain months became very prominent peaks, such as the incidents in March which resulted in as many as 603 casualties in that particular month alone, while in August there were as many as 380 events of unrest. It could be said that the statistics in those two months had broken the monthly records for the entire period of 9 years and 9 months, i.e. from January 2004 to September 2012. The injury and death statistics in March 2012 was the highest record since 2004, while the frequency of unrest events in August 2004 was the highest since January 2004 onwards.
“The prominence of the recent violence statistics reflects the higher "intensity level" of the situation in the Deep South, and could be the proof of the rise in the quality or magnitude of the violence and indicates the continuity of the inevitable state of prolonged/chronic violence in the Deep South. Although there was no fatality, the disturbance made August 2012 to be the month with more than 300 events of unrest, making it the month with the highest frequency of unrest events during the previous 9 years, from January 2004 onwards.
“Reason Two: The format of violence in 2012 has also become more complex and convoluting. It should also be noted that although the number of events increased and the frequently also spiked in some months, but the level of violence in general did not constantly escalate. It appears as though the expansion of violence was in a cascade-like pattern, thus the violence was not in the form of uncontrollable chaos. This reflects the existence of a certain “pulling force” or “balancing force” in the area, causing the violence to be continuous, but also with certainty and constancy.
Rob Corben of DW.DE wrote: “The Thai military has called on the BRN to stop the violence in a bid to put an end to the almost decade-long insurgency. But efforts to stem the bloodshed have fallen short, human rights groups criticize. Pratubjit Neelapaijit, a rights campaigner and lecturer at Mahidol University welcomes the peace process, but says claims of human rights abuses are not being properly examined. "There is no transparency in the investigation of incidents that happen in the south," Pratubjit told DW, citing the deaths of 78 Muslim men who perished after their arrest outside a courthouse in Narathiwat province in 2004. While the Thai Government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has paid compensation to the victim's families, no one has been found guilty thus far. "The culture of impunity is still present in Thai society and the judiciary has failed to build a sense of trust among Thai Buddhist and Malay Muslim communities in southern Thailand," Neelapaijit explained. The activist is the daughter of Muslim human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who disappeared in 2004 and was presumably murdered after alleging that Thai security forces abused his clients during interrogation in jail. [Source: Rob Corben, DW.DE, November 4, 2013]
Thai Government Response to the Troubles in the Muslim South
More than 30,000 troops and police have been placed on Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat Provinces. There have been supported by thousands of security volunteers, some of them vigilantes and even death squad members who carry retaliatory attacks against Muslim s when Buddhists are attacked. Curfews and travel restrictions have been imposed. In some places cell phone signals have been cut off to prevent the triggering of explosives by mobile phones.
Parts of the Muslim south resembled war-time Iraq. Troops sit behind sandbags and machine at major intersections, At checkpoints vehicles and passengers are rigorously searched Checkpoints have been set up on the Thai-Malaysia border. Border patrols monitor the area. People and vehicles entering Thailand are rigorously searched. Known militants have a 500,000 baht ($12,700) price on their head.
Few militants have been caught or charged or imprisoned, Suspects have been rounded up. Some were have been bombmakers; other suspected insurgents. Many were reportedly innocent. The government has had little success stemming the violence and doesn’t even know much about the enemy they are fighting, Srisompob Jitpiromsri of Prince of Songkla University told the Los Angeles Times, “The nation’s best military intelligence concedes were are waging a war on ghosts. We don’t have a clue as to who their leaders are or what they want.”
In 2007, AFP reported: “The military has also requested massive spending increases to buy new weaponry, including a dozen fighter jets already ordered from Sweden, saying it needs the hardware to battle the insurgency. But near-daily shootings, bombings and ambushes continue to hit southern Thailand despite the military crackdown, arrests and a raft of peace initiatives by the army-backed government. The government also relies heavily on paramilitary forces.... Many villages have lost any faith that the government can protect them and have begun to organise their own sectarian vigilante forces. Rights groups and analysts have voiced alarm at the trend, saying such forces only increase tensions among communities and hamper efforts to make security forces more accountable. [Source: AFP, November 28, 2007]
Winning Hearts and Minds in the Muslim South
Even before the violence in southern Thailand escalated to a crisis level in 2004 the government has used carrot and stick approach in the region: providing money for infrastructure projects and allowing some linguistic and religious liberties in an effort to win hearts and minds while cracking down on any hint of Muslim extremism or separatism.
In December of 2004, in an unusual peace gesture to quell hostilities in the Muslim South, Thaksin ordered 50 Thai air force planes to drop 100 million paper cranes on the provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani on the king of Thailand's birthday. The cranes were folded, origami-style, by troops, students, and volunteers from all over Thailand . Even Thaksin and his cabinet folded some. Paper cranes are symbols of peace and hope in Japan. At the same time, however, Thaksin proposed tougher security laws such as the ability to tap phones without warrants and hold suspects without a charge for a week. The New York Times quoted Thaksin as saying, the cranes would "have a psychological effect on moderate people but it will not work with people who are leading the vicious acts."
In June 2004, the Thai government set up panels of villagers and officials to addresses Muslim grievances. It also announced that it was ready to hold peace talks with the leader of Bersatu, an umbrella organization of three Muslim insurgent groups. Thaksin also admitted that his get tough policy was a failure in that it only exacerbated the problem.
In July 2005, the Thai government imposed the 2005 Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations (Emergency Power Law) , an instrument that the government said “would enable state officials to deal with the unrest more effectively and bring perpetrators to justice. The decree lasted for three months, and “could be renewed, if necessary, through Cabinet approval.” See Thaksin Below
In June 2007, the government began raiding villages and making mass arrests, but afterwards courts ordered authorities to free 384 young men who had been held without charge in what the army said was a job training programme. Also in 2007 the Thai government offered amnesty to all southern insurgents except for those who committed criminal acts. There were some who felt too many concessions were given to the Muslims. In the spring of 2007, thousand of monks took the streets demanding that Buddhist be designated by the constitution as the state religion.
Mark Magnier wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “The state has carried out various "hearts and minds" campaigns, interspersed with crackdowns: the fatal shooting of six protesters, the suffocation of 78 detainees in 2004 and a "war on drugs" that saw many extrajudicial killings of young Muslim men. Thai officials have not been charged in any of the incidents. "Police are bad anywhere in Thailand, but when you add a racial-religious element, it's even worse," Davis said. "What better recruiting tool for an up-and-coming Muslim organization?" [Source: Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times April 4, 2010]
Thai Government Response to the Muslim Separatist After Thaksin
Many people though the situation would improve after the military coup in 2006. The coup leader, former army chief Boonyaratglin Sondhi was a Muslim. The new Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont apologized for hardline policies of the past soon after taking his post and said he wanted to reach out and talk with the Muslims. He apologized to victims of the violence, and restricted the activities Thai security forces.
There was talk of reconciliation, justice and dialogue. An investigation was launched into the Krue Se mosque attack. Some criticized suggestions of talking with the Muslim insurgents because it wasn’t clear who one would talk to. But in the end the attacks continued as did the government crackdown. Curfews were imposed. The number of troops in the region was increased to 65,000, which allowed the government to set up tougher security grids, and more effectively gather intelligence and restrict the militant’s movement. There was also increased. January 2008, the plug was pulled on a Middle-East-based television station, Al-Mansar, after it was revealed that the station had links to Hezbollah.
In early 2008, the newly elected government of Abhisit Vejjajiva said that it was considering offering some degree of self-rule to the Muslim-majority provinces and tossed around the idea of expanding the application of Muslim law (Sharia) and even making the southern provinces in special administrative zone sort of like Tibet or Xinjiang in China. Many Buddhist Thais opposed these ideas. Some claimed it went against the whole idea of equal rights .
Later Abhisit too decided to take the carrot and stick approach Grant Peck of AP wrote: Abhisit “has ruled out granting political autonomy to the region and instead announced in March that 4,000 more security personnel would be deployed, supplementing more than 60,000 forces already there...He also said economic development would be the most effective long-term solution to the area's problems. "We're going to go ahead with a very comprehensive and massive investment project aimed at bringing up the level of income of the people in the area," Abhisit said at a panel discussion Monday in Singapore. He did not say how much authorities would invest. [Source: Grant Peck, AP, June 22, 2009]
In March 2009, the Thai cabinet approved the purchase of blimp to help survey the violence-striken southern Thai provinces. By 2010 less-confrontational army tactics and better intelligence was credited with helping to reduce the number of daily attacks to about half what the were in the mid 2000s.
Shutting Down Islamic Schools
In 2007, The Nation reported: “The order issued by Narathiwat provincial authorities to close down an Islamic school after a group of teachers and students were arrested in connection with insurgent activities, and a cache of weapons was found on school grounds, is the first such closure since violence broke out in the Deep South. The Education Ministry has already revoked the licence of the Islam Burapha private religious school on the grounds that the school was used to indoctrinate students with a perverted brand of Islam that advocates violence and an armed struggle against the state. The shutdown forced the parents of some 600 students at the school to transfer their children elsewhere and some 60 members of the teaching staff to look for new jobs. According to authorities, the order to close down the Islam Burapha school had the consent of the Narathiwat Islamic committee. Prior consultation with the provincial Islamic committee suggests that authorities were aware of the political ramifications and the cultural sensitivity of such a drastic action. [Source: The Nation, July 20, 2007~]
“The Islam Burapha school, like many privately-run Islamic schools that also provide a secular education in the Malay-speaking southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, was heavily subsidised by the Thai government. Private Islamic schools play an important role by serving the dual function of providing Islamic studies and a secular education in Thai that enables local children to appreciate their local culture, without sacrificing the opportunity to get ahead in society. ~
“There have been similar incidents in the past involving individual teachers and students at other Islamic schools in the strife-torn region, but the schools they had been associated with were not shut down. It is important for authorities to be able to demonstrate that the harsh action taken against Islam Burapha school is backed up by hard evidence, and that it is not a form of collective punishment.. The combined military and police forces responsible for the raid on the Islam Burapha school last week, which resulted in the capture of eight suspected insurgents and the seizure of their weapons, insisted that they had acted on tips provided by members of the local community where the school is located. Military commanders and local police officials say that based on the intelligence they have gathered there is a clear pattern of a number of Islamic schools being infiltrated by Islamic militants in order to instil in students a hateful ideology. It glorifies armed struggle against the Thai state in an effort to try to create an independent Islamic homeland in southern Thailand. While the authorities, preferably with the help of local communities, should be on the lookout for Islamic militants/Malay separatists infiltrating Islamic schools, it must be made clear that the great majority of these schools are being run by dedicated, law-abiding administrators. ~
Local Militias in the Muslim South
Mark Magnier wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “As part of counterinsurgency efforts, the Thai army has ceded more authority to home-defense and paramilitary forces. Many of these troops are poorly trained, critics say, further antagonizing the Malay-speaking Muslim majority in the troubled provinces just north of the border with Malaysia. [Source: Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times April 4, 2010]
“Local militia member Apiyud Rattanapinyo, 52, shows off his weaponry at his dingy restaurant in Tan Yong Mas, a town ringed by army checkpoints. The Thai Buddhist has two rifles in his truck, a .357 magnum pistol on his belt, four amulets around his neck and half a dozen teeth missing from his smile. "Islamic teachers may say they're not involved, but many are lying," he said. "The militants are afraid of people like me because I shoot at them." ^
“Rattanapinyo, a self-avowed protector of traditional Thai values who said he's been shot at four times and survived a roadside bomb, believes that a solution lies in forcing Islamic schools to teach more Thai language and culture. "This is Thailand," he said. "If they don't mess with my homeland, I won't mess with theirs." Far more hidden are the insurgents and their weapons. An estimated 90 percent of villages in contested zones have secretive attack cells, security experts say. "Hearts and minds, it's crap," said local militia member Rattanapinyo beside his attack dog and home bunker. "We have to get serious. If you don't, they'll think you're soft." ^
Kavi Chongkittavorn wrote in The Nation: “Adding salt to the wounds, the armed villager groups - such as the Village Safety Protection Unit (chut raksa kham plod phai moo baan), the Safety Protection Volunteers (asa samak raksa kham plod phai) and the Ruam Thai Group - are becoming sources of tension and violence. The government must quickly come up with stringent measures to discipline these unregulated armed villagers. If possible, their numbers must be dramatically cut down as the government is vigorously implementing human security-related policies. Truth be told, these armed men and women lack proper training in the use of firearms which has seriously heightened tension and mutual mistrust among local communities, especially the Muslims and Buddhists. In addition, to increase the confidence of the Muslims down there, the so-called preventive detention must also stop. At least 500-600 suspects are jailed and suffer greatly from such practice. [Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, February 22, 2010]
Thai Women Battling Insurgency in Southern Thailand
Shino Yuasa of AFP wrote: “A golden Buddha amulet is Nattapat Khongkhoun’s spiritual armour against separatist militants who killed her father and continue to terrorise residents in this southern Thai province.She is one of the 300 female army rangers tasked with quelling an insurgency in the kingdom’s Muslim-majority south. Before joining the army the 28-year-old was a bank clerk, but her life took a dramatic turn when rebels shot dead her father, an army officer, in March 2006 in Pattani, one of three restive provinces bordering Malaysia. [Source: Shino Yuasa, AFP, April 5, 2008**]
“I decided to follow in the footsteps of my father. Solving this crisis was my father’s responsibility, and I wanted to fulfil it,” she said. Wearing the ranger’s all-black T-shirt, trousers and combat boots, Nattapat conceded the job was harder than she had expected. “The situation is getting worse. Militants are using brutal tactics like beheadings and mutilation of corpses to show off and scare villagers,” she said at an army barracks set up in the compound of a Buddhist temple. “It is difficult to capture them because they always mingle with villagers. That’s why cooperation with villagers is very important to tackle the violence,” Nattapat said. **
“The army set up an all-women rangers unit in 2006 to boost cooperation between villagers and the military, recruiting mainly local residents. They are often called upon to break up protests by Muslim women, which authorities believe are staged after attacks to provide cover as militants escape...Nattapat’s fellow ranger, Phadungsri Kenkaow, said she was optimistic about the situation. “Everything will get better. We get better cooperation from villagers,” said Phadungsri, a 26-year-old softly-spoken Buddhist and former nurse.“This is what I always wanted. I want to help my country,” she said. **
“For Preeyaporn Chindamanee, a 27-year-old former beautician, the decision to join the army came as a shock to her parents and friends. “It was difficult for them to understand, but now they all support me,” said Preeyaporn. But the 27-year-old Muslim said her biggest frustration as a ranger was a lack of clear identification of militants. "I don't know who my enemies are," said Arnastashia, a former government official who used to manage poverty reduction programmes in Pattani. "People used to live here peacefully, but militants were trying to create misunderstanding and mistrust between Buddhists and Muslims," said the demure-looking Muslim. Preeyaporn agreed. "Every religion teaches people to be good and kind to each other. Buddhists and Muslims used to be good neighbours. I want to help restore a sense of community between Buddhists and Muslims," she said. **
Thai Security Forces Occupy Schools in the Muslim South
In September 2010, Human Rights Watch reported: “Thai security forces—both the army and the paramilitary Rangers—are putting children’s safety and education at risk by choosing to establish and operate bases within school buildings or on school grounds. This practice should be distinguished from occasions when security forces establish a presence outside of a school for a short period in response to an immediate and compelling security threat to the school. Instead, these military occupations of school grounds last for many months and even years. They are driven by a desire on the part of the security forces to accommodate troops while benefiting from central locations, government land, solid structures, and free electricity and water, as they establish a base in potentially hostile territory. When the security forces set themselves up within schools or on school grounds, students at the schools are forced to carry on their studies alongside armed men. [Source: Human Rights Watch, September 21, 2010==]
“When Human Rights Watch visited Ban Klong Chang village’s government elementary school, where all of the students are Muslim, paramilitary Ranger forces had occupied the school grounds for approximately two years. The Rangers base took up about half of the playing field behind the school. Local residents told Human Rights Watch that Rangers had previously been based outside the village, but that they had moved onto the school grounds after insurgents killed the village head who had previously opposed the Rangers establishing a presence in the village.
On school grounds, the soldiers are armed with pistols or military assault rifles. When Human Rights Watch asked Basor Binsakee, a 12-year-old boy, whether or not the soldiers ever carried weapons, he answered promptly that they carried “M-16s [assault rifles]. I could touch them, [but I] was not allowed to carry the weapon.” A local resident also noted: “When the children play with the soldiers, or sit on their laps, they are armed.” ==
“Parents, current students, and former students interviewed by Human Rights Watch raised various concerns about the interaction between the Rangers and the students. Students expressed fears that their proximity to the security forces raised the risk of an attack on the school that could wound them. As one nine-year-old girl at the school told Human Rights Watch: “I am scared.… What scares me is the thought that the school could be attacked because the soldiers are at the school, but that students and teachers would be the ones that get hurt.… The schoolchildren and teachers could get caught in the middle.” Both parents and students shared their concerns that the quality of the teaching at the school had decreased since the arrival of the Rangers. They attributed this to the teachers’ increased anxiety and security concerns. “The teachers are not focusing on the teaching,” one mother of a seven-year-old boy told us. “My daughter has complained that the teachers do not focus on their job,” another parent said. ==
Malaysia and Thailand and the Muslim South
Relations between Thailand and predominately-Muslim Malaysia have been strained by the violence in southern Thailand. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Matthathr Mohammed has suggested that the Thai government consider giving more autonomy to three southern Muslim provinces. Other Muslim leaders in Malaysia encouraged to the Thai government to talk with the Thai Muslims. Malaysia is regarded as a key player for any kind of settlement
When Thaksin was prime minister he said that Thai militants had received training in Malaysia. The Malaysian government denies the charges and said that it helped Thailand by placing 1,000 soldiers to patrol border areas.
Malaysia was criticized for providing a haven for 131 Thai Muslims who fled to Malaysia, saying they feared persecution at home. The Thais insisted they were insurgents. Thailand was angered further when Malaysia allowed the United Nations refugee agency to interview the Thai Muslims. Finally the matter was cleared up in January 2006, when 131 Thai Muslims who fled to Malaysia were deported back to Thailand .
Other Muslim countries have expressed the displeasure with the situation of Muslims in southern Thailand . The Saudi-Arabai-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which speaks for Islamic nations, changed its vew of Thailand from admiration to one of suspicion and criticized the way the Thai government has handle the situation in the south.
Creating “Harmonious Coexistence” Between Buddhists and Muslims
One program the Thai government has set up to improve relations between Muslims and Buddhists in the Deep South is the “multicultural community” in Mae Lan district in the southern border province of Pattani. Here, the government reports: “Buddhist and Muslim Thais are living in harmony and working closely to solve their problems. This community is located at Ban Mae Tina—38 kilometers from the town of Pattani. There are 172 families, with a population of 848, comprising 50 percent Buddhists and 50 percent Muslims. Local residents are engaged mainly in farming natural rubber and field crops. They help one another and solve their problems through discussion and consensus at a forum, known as the “Hasuro council.” [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department ]
Local leaders and wise men play an important role in cultural linkage...The community has formed several occupational groups for local development. The groups are involved in such activities as dressmaking, dessert cooking, goat farming, furniture production, and a community cooperative. In particular, the dressmaking group has received orders from Malaysia for schoolchildren uniforms. In December 2010, the government revoked the Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations in Mae Lan, replacing it with the Internal Security Act, in a pilot move that would lead to the lifting of the special law from other areas in the three southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat.
Mae Lan district’s vision is to develop organic farming in line with His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy and develop a society of wisdom for peace and happiness. According to Mr. Preecha Chanakitkamchorn, Chief of Mae Lan District, violent incidents in Mae Lan have dropped significantly, from 12 in 2009 to only three in 2010. The degree of violence is also on the decline, and no local residents have left their homeland to live elsewhere. Local people have participated more in various activities organized by the authorities, who have also been given useful information concerning security and drugs to help tackle local problems. Mae Lan has a project to build a mosque beside the district office to facilitate religious practices for Muslims and a large Buddha image on the other side of the district office for Buddhists.
Village for Widows of Insurgency Violence
Ayesha Akram wrote of WeNews wrote: At Ban RoTan Batu, a village located in the province of Narathiwat, all the residents are women who have lost their husbands to a violent conflict holding strong in southern Thailand. Many of those killed in the conflict are Buddhists; Jeh Ratifah's husband was a Muslim, and she feels he was targeted because he was a police officer. On Sept. 11, 2004, Ratifah's husband was fatally shot by a hooded man astride a motorbike.[Source: Ayesha Akram, WeNews, October 22, 2006+++]
“After his death, Ratifah was terrified that her husband's killers, who have never been caught, would come after her. She gathered her two children and fled her village, not knowing where she would go. "I didn't want to live in my old house; I just didn't feel safe," she said, adding that without her husband's income, she wouldn't have been able to pay the rent anyway. Her husband's boss told her about Ban RoTan Batu, a village created from funds distributed by Thailand's Queen Sirikit, who has a long history of launching projects to help the impoverished. The queen donated over 700 acres of farmland and the project has incurred costs of more than $800,000. +++
“Armed guards patrol the village at all times and security is tight. But beyond the checkpoints, the village is peaceful and serene. Identical houses constructed in neat rows dot the landscape, separated by vast expanses of farmland. The village is slowly becoming self-sufficient as some widows are setting up humble shops in their homes. For the children cycling on the streets, there are many diversions: an ostrich farm, a fish-breeding farm and pottery classes. Trainers employed by the village teach the widows skills ranging from making pottery to working in a fish farm. For her work, every widow is paid 150 baht--about $4--a day, while the average per capita income in Thailand is about $7.50 per day. Plans are now underway for nine more such villages but only one is close to being completed. +++
Improving Education in the Muslim South
According to the Thai government: “Education has been advocated as one of the best ways to improve the situation in the southern border provinces, according to several reports. The Ministry of Education has set six education strategies to be implemented in the deep South. The first strategy seeks to develop the quality of education. In the second strategy, Islamic studies will be promoted and local residents in the South will be able to have Islamic education as they wish. The third strategy seeks to support local private schools, such as pondok and tadika. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department ]
In the fourth strategy, vocational education will be promoted to enable local residents to earn a living both in Thailand and abroad. The fifth strategy seeks to improve education management and develop provincial and district offices under the Office of Private Education Commission and subdistrict offices under the Office of Non-formal and Informal Education into IT centers for communication. The sixth strategy, education for security, seeks to ensure safety for teachers and other education personnel.
“The Ministry of Education has offered annual scholarships, from kindergarten to graduate level, for those whose lives have been disrupted by the unrest. The Ministry of Interior has also carried out a project to send southern Muslim students to continue their studies in various universities. The project is considered an important measure to tackle southern problems, especially those concerning security, socio-psychology, and economic development. It is intended to provide educational opportunities for young Muslim Thais and upgrade their living standards.
“Meanwhile, the College of Islamic Studies, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani province, is making efforts to upgrade the quality of Islamic studies in Thailand to suit the challenges of the globalization era. The efforts will contribute to the tackling of southern problems in the long run. Since a large number of Muslim students in the South had no access to education loans, in accordance with Islamic principles, the Ministry of Finance assigned the Islamic Bank of Thailand to work with Krung Thai Bank and the Income Contingency Loan program in setting guidelines for extending credit to Muslim students for education purposes.”
Kavi Chongkittavorn wrote in The Nation: “Education for the southern provinces - the country's lowest standard - must be further improved. In the long run, better education of disenchanted youth would turn them into productive work forces in society. Muslim youths have suffered from high unemployment. From 2007-09, the government allocated Bt90 million to fund Muslim students for their higher education and study aboard. This year's Bt27-million budget will focus on job development programmes, internships and other cultural-related activities. [Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, February 22, 2010]
Improving the Justice System in the Muslim South
In four Muslim-dominant southern border provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, and Satun a law governing the family and inheritance in accordance with Islamic principles has existed since the 1950s. There are plans to the law to cover other provinces. There is also a Chularajamontri (State Counselor for All Islamic Affairs in Thailand). In May 2010, a Muslim spiritual leader was named to the position for the first time.
According to the Thai government: “Emphasizing the policy of ensuring justice based on the rule of law as a means of bringing reconciliation and restoring peace in the deep South, the Ministry of Justice has come up with a strategic plan for 2010-2014 on the development of the judicial process in the southern border provinces. The plan seeks to reduce conflicts through the principles of reconciliation and harmonization and emphasizes community justice and empowerment, with active participation of local, community, and religious leaders. In ensuring justice, the country’s human rights obligations will be adhered to, while laws will be enforced fairly and equally for all, so that people will feel more secure and have more confidence in the justice system. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department ]
“The plan consists of five strategies. In the first strategy, justice will be developed on the basis of the rule of law, in accordance with local culture, lifestyle, religious principles, and good governance. The second strategy seeks to enhance both community and alternative justice. Conflicts of all types will be addressed in order to set guidelines for settlements and reduce conflicts through the participation of the community, local residents, and civil society. The third strategy seeks to develop the justice system and treatment of wrongdoers in the southern border provinces before, during, and after the judicial process, based on compassion, loving-kindness, and forgiveness. The fourth strategy involves remedial measures to rehabilitate those affected by violent incidents in the South. Guidelines will be adjusted to suit each locality, reduce duplication of work, and eliminate the feelings of unfair treatment and discrimination. In the fifth strategy, public relations to ensure justice and provide people with accurate news and information will be promoted.
“The plan also calls for the establishment of an institute for law development and judicial process in the deep South. The institute will serve as a major mechanism for developing laws and the judicial system” that “includes the enforcement of Islamic law in accordance with Islamic principles. For instance, Islamic laws governing the family and inheritance will be amended. Local people will be urged to participate in solving problems in their respective areas.”
Reconciliation Promotion Center in Pattani
According to the Thai government: “The Reconciliation Promotion Center in the southern border province of Pattani has been recognized for its role in ensuring justice for persons suspected of creating unrest and for its success in encouraging perpetrators to turn over a new leaf. Established on 30 April 2004, it is located in the Ingkhayut Borihan Military Camp, supervised by the Fourth Army Area Command, in Nong Chik district. In the initial stage, the center’s mission was mainly to interrogate those suspected of being involved in disturbances in the southern provinces. But since then, it has placed emphasis on providing them with better understanding about the government’s policies in the South, so that they would be willing to cooperate with officials in restoring peace in the South. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department ]
“The detainees, and many others, had been misled into joining groups intent on committing violence, or they joined factions with other dangerous intentions. Some of them joined out of fear for the safety of their life and property. Confusion about the government was spread among them, and they were urged to hate state officials. Most of the suspects in the center said that, prior to being detained, they had negative attitudes toward the operations of officials, as they were afraid of being treated unfairly or being tortured. This could be observed from their unfriendly manner and refusal to give cooperation with officials in their early days of detention. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department ]
“Officials at the center treat them with sincerity and honesty and make friends with them; they also invite a Muslim resource person to educate the detainees in proper Islamic principles. Both the detainees and their families are invited to carry out religious and sports activities together with officials, especially during the period when relatives are allowed to meet the detainees. They are also provided with knowledge on how to translate the Sufficiency Economy philosophy into action.
Hope Amidst the Carnage in the Muslim South in 2013?
The Economist reported: “Despite the carnage, however, glimmers of hope are emerging that the country might eventually find a way out of what has become an increasingly bloody and intractable civil war. The success last year of peace talks in Mindanao in the southern part of the Philippines has spurred similar efforts in Thailand. There, as in Thailand, fighters from a Muslim-majority southern region fought a decades-long terrorist campaign against the central authorities in Manila to win their own state. The violence cost 120,000 lives. Yet last year both sides accepted a compromise, the creation of a new semi-autonomous Bangsamoro state. [Source: The Economist , January 19, 2013~]
“The Thai government has studied this agreement closely, and sent a high-profile delegation to talk to the Malaysian government, which helped broker the Mindanao deal. Malaysia should be well-placed to help out in any similar push to resolve Thailand’s problem, given its geographical and ethnic proximity to Pattani. According to one expert in conflict resolution, the Philippines process has had a cathartic effect. ~
“It is also clear that the Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra, elected in July 2011, is now taking the insurgency seriously as a political problem as well as simply a security issue. A new policy outlined in 2012 explicitly commits the government to dialogue with those who have “different opinions and ideologies from the state”. The policy also broaches discussion about political decentralisation. Considered by many to be an obvious solution to the southern problem, it remains pretty radical stuff for a conservative establishment. ~
“The government is also trying to meet Muslims’ complaints that they are culturally marginalised in their own country. It has just started a satellite-television service in their language, Malay. Big sums are now going to Islamic schools and a university. But Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok thinks that, whereas these “below-the-radar manoeuvres are promising…the Thai establishment is not ready to move yet.” Any gestures towards decentralisation have always been anathema to the powerful army, which insists on Thailand’s unitary nature, under King Bhumibol. But the king is ill, and few have the stomach to question the territorial integrity of the state. So the trauma in the south of the country is unlikely to end just yet.” ~
Thailand, Muslim Militants Agree to Peace Talks
Peace talks were launched in February 2013 between Thailand's National Security Council (NSC) and leaders of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), one of the oldest rebel groups operating in the south and a group representing various insurgent factions in the south but certainly not all of them.
AP reported: “Thailand's government signed a breakthrough deal with Muslim insurgents for the first time ever, agreeing to hold talks to ease nearly a decade of violence in the country's southern provinces. The agreement was announced in Malaysia's largest city, Kuala Lumpur, between Thai authorities and the militant National Revolution Front, also known by its Malay-language initials, BRN. [Source: Eileen Ng and Thanyarat Doksone, AP, February 28 2013 ///]
"God-willing, we'll do our best to solve the problem. We will tell our people to work together," Hassan Taib, a Malaysian-based senior representative of the BRN, said after a brief signing ceremony with Lt. Gen. Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary general of Thailand's National Security Council. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who met with his Thai counterpart, The first meeting were held in Malaysia in March 2013. ///
Najib described the signing as "merely the starting point of a long process" because many issues have to be resolved, but added that it was a "solid demonstration of the common resolve to find and establish an enduring peace in southern Thailand." Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said talks would be conducted "within the framework of the constitution" of Thailand to address the root causes of the unrest. "I have to say we are seeing a better direction in solving the problem, and I consider it a good start," she said after meeting with Najib. "We need to move forward as soon as possible." ///
The first round of talks will focus on how both sides can cooperate, said Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab of Malaysia's National Security Council. But the insurgency remains murky, with militants making no public pronouncements on their goals. Paradorn said Thai security forces would continue to patrol the region. "It's not unusual that there might be groups that disagree with the talks, so our military operations will continue. But the discussion will have to carry on at the same time," Paradorn told reporters in Bangkok on Wednesday before leaving for Malaysia. He said fewer than 1,000 insurgents are living on the Malaysian side of the border. Most are ethnic Malays. ////
Does the BNR Even Represent the Muslim Militants in Thailand’s Deep South
Thai deputy prime minister Chalerm Yubamrung said in Bangkok has voiced the view of many experts who say a generational gap between older insurgents who want to negotiate and more militant younger members will complicate peace efforts. "I am not confident either that (the BRN representatives) are real core leaders," he said. Underlining the highly tentative nature of the talks, Paradorn had acknowledged that Thailand was yet to determine whether the BRN envoys actually control battle-hardened militants on the ground. [Source: Julia Zappei, AFP, March 28, 2013]
The BRN is one of the larger groups held responsible by Thailand for the violence. "I'd like to be more optimistic, but I'm afraid my sense is that if these talks are going to accomplish anything, it's going to take a long time," Liow Chin Yong, an international studies professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, told Reuters. He added: "It remains to be seen whether (BRN representative) Ustaz Hassan Taib has any clout at all over those fighting on the ground."
But Thai National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said Thailand hoped BRN's involvement would trigger other groups to join future talks. "We both want to reduce violence and make peace in the south," Paradorn said. Muslim-majority Malaysia has already hosted negotiations between the Philippines and Muslim separatists in that country which resulted in a landmark agreement in October 2012 aimed at ending a decades-long insurgency there.
According to Associated Press: The Thai government and military have struggled to identify legitimate participants for the peace process, as the militant leadership is not clear and no groups have stepped out to take responsibility for the daily attacks in recent years. The insurgency is believed to be highly decentralized, with local units having the freedom to choose targets and campaigns. The BRN is one of several separatist movements that have made public calls for a separate state in Thailand's Muslim-dominated south. It is unclear how many groups of insurgents the Thai authorities intend to bring in. [Source: Eileen Ng and Thanyarat Doksone, AP, February 28 2013 ///]
Other experts argue that bringing more insurgents to the negotiating table will not be easy. "There are several groups who would like to talk to the Thai authorities, but they won't come out because the Thai government cannot guarantee their safety. What they want is amnesty, which the Thai government can't promise," said Panitan Wattanayagorn of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. "The insurgents, too, will have to talk among themselves before making any decisions," he said. "So it is not clear that we will see a decline in the incidents in the near future." Other groups fighting in southern Thailand include the Pattani United Liberation Organization, which has made public calls for a separate state. ///
Dim Prospects for Peace in Southern Thailand
Daniel Wagner wrote in the Huffington Post, “ The talks have, thus far, failed to achieve their objective, as there remains a wide gap between both sides' demands. The absence of leadership or political cohesion within the insurgency raises question about which rebels are being represented in KL, and to what extent the BRN-C fully represents or can influence all entities that comprise the insurgency. Events on the ground indicate that the insurgency has entered a new phase of enhanced violence and human rights abuses that now target children. Within this context, prospects for success in KL appear dim. [Source: Daniel Wagner, Huffington Post, November 22, 2013; Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions, a cross-border risk advisory firm, and author of the book "Managing Country Risk."\=]
“The majority of rebel offensives are waged by autonomous units of Islamist fighters. While the objectives of all the insurgent groups are unclear, the establishment of a Malay-speaking Muslim state between Thailand and Malaysia is a unifying goal. If the peace talks were to conclude with a deal that offers the Malay-Muslims anything short of total independence from Thai rule, it is doubtful that most of the insurgents would agree to lay down their arms. At the same time, no one expects Bangkok to support any deal that entails the partition of the existing Thai nation-state. In this regard, both sides' demands appear fundamentally incompatible. \=\
“As the violence has continued unabated, serious doubts exist over the BRN-C's influence on the ground in southern Thailand. A younger generation of Islamist fighters are less inclined to accept an olive branch and are skeptical of any agreement with Bangkok. The exiled leader of the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) -- another separatist group -- has taken responsibility for some recent attacks, declaring that such violence will continue given that the PULO was not invited to join the BRN-C in KL. In the absence of a higher degree of confidence about the BRN-C's influence on the ground and legitimacy as the representative of the insurgents, and given the expansion of the list of "legitimate" targets by some of the insurgents to include Thai-Buddhist children in southern Thailand, the KL talks are effectively dead. \=\
Violence in Southern Thailand After the Peace Talks Began 2013
Amy Sawitta Lefevre of Reuters wrote: “The peace talks have done nothing to stop the killing - the number of fatalities in March was the highest since the violence flared again, according to Deep South Watch, a think tank that monitors the violence. In one day in February, suspected Muslim insurgents launched up to 50 bomb and arson attacks that killed three security force members. The following month, 16 rebels were killed by Thai security forces during an assault on a marine base. [Source:Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Reuters, May 2, 2013]
International Crisis Group (ICG) ICG analysis shows a monthly average of 24 roadside attacks in the first half of 2013. Sunai Pasuk, a senior analyst with the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch points out that the violence in the region has continued almost unabated. "After rebel attacks, the government usually carries out raids on insurgent strongholds which, in turn, lead to retaliatory strikes by the insurgents," Sunai said. "So it becomes a 'ping pong' of violence, a very deadly game."
March 2013, Julia Zappei of AFP wrote: “Thailand held its first formal peace talks with a rebel group from its insurgency-racked south as a bombing killed three people in a stark reminder of the difficulties negotiators face. Thailand blamed the morning bombing that killed three paramilitaries on militants seeking to sabotage the peace effort. Five paramilitaries were also wounded in the roadside bombing that targeted a security patrol in the southern province of Narathiwat. "The violence this morning is related to the talks in Malaysia," Thai deputy prime minister Chalerm Yubamrung said in Bangkok. [Source:Julia Zappei, AFP, March 28, 2013]
In May 2013, an attack blamed on Muslim insurgents killed six people, including a three-year-old boy. Reuters reported: Four gunmen on motorcycles pulled up at a store in Pattani province, just 500 metres from a military checkpoint, and opened fire. "We don't know which group instigated this but there are differing opinions in the south. We will continue with a meeting on June 13, with support from the military," he told reporters. The killings came just two days after a second round of peace talks in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, brokered by Malaysia, between Thai officials and leaders of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), one of the oldest rebel groups operating in the south. A police officer in Pattani said the attackers sprayed the shop with bullets before going in to "finish off" their victims. "They left a note saying 'revenge for the innocent' before fleeing the scene," he told Reuters. Five of the victims were Buddhists and one Muslim. [Source: Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Reuters, May 2, 2013]
In October 2013, Associated Press reported: Three bomb squad officers were killed while inspecting a suspicious item beside a road in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, police said. Suspected insurgents detonated an improvised bomb in a box when the squad arrived to check out a location where tires had been burned in Bacho district in Narathiwat province, police Col. Pakdee Preechachon said. A common militant tactic is to initiate a false attack then strike the security officers who respond to it. A second bomb was defused at the scene. [Source: Associated Press, October 28, 2013]
in October 2013, AFP reported: “Six people including two policemen were shot dead in a fierce gunbattle between Thai security forces and militants, authorities said on Sunday, after a raid in the insurgency-plagued south of the country. The clash broke out after a combined army, police and paramilitary group tried to search a village in Narathiwat, one of several conflict-prone provinces in the Muslim-majority region, on Saturday afternoon. “It was quite a big gunbattle which lasted a long time,” southern army spokesman Colonel Pramote Prom-In said. “The dead were on our wanted lists,” he said, adding that a further seven suspects with warrants issued for them were also arrested in the raid. [Source: AFP, October 6, 2013]
Sixteen Militants Killed in an Attack on a Thai Military Base
Robert Horn wrote in Time magazine, Maroso Chantrawadee from the village of Yuelor in the deep south of Thailand had been a survivor. He emerged alive from the back of an army truck after the 2004 Tak Bai incident, which left 78 died, and rose to become a leader of a band of armed militants, called juwae, fighting for independence. But in February 2013 Maroso and 15 of his fellow rebels were killed in a failed attempt to overrun a Thai army base. In a video his funeral uploaded on Facebook, Maroso was hailed as a martyr. He and his guerrillas were called heroes for having killed many Thai soldiers over the years. [Source: Robert Horn, Time magazine, February 17, 2013]
The firefight in which Maroso died was a rare victory for Thailand’s security forces. The army was prepared: they killed at least 16 of about 50 rebels and wounded an unknown number of others. The soldiers escaped unscathed. Days later, they were sweeping the area and had arrested four suspected attackers. The difference this time, army officials said in explaining the outcome, was that locals had tipped them off. Srisompob believes the killing of the teacher, one of many attacks on the education system in the south, played a role in that. “We are seeing a change in attitude and sympathies among some in the Muslim community. They have had enough of the violence and the killing of innocents,” he told TIME.
If the militants are indeed losing some support among Muslims, could that mean the tide is finally starting to turn in the deep south? Most observers don’t think so. The violence in southern Thailand is running too long and too complex to be solved in one firefight — or by military means. “The conflict in the south is fundamentally political,’’ says Matthew Wheeler, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.
Balancing Force of the Violence in the Muslim South?
Srisompob Jitpiromsri wrote on DeepSouthWatch: “What is the cause of this balancing force? The balancing force that limits the expansion of the violence could be the outcomes of three main causes: The first cause was the role of the state security force in preventing and suppressing the insurgency. The main security mechanism of the state is the military and policy forces who are deployed together with paramilitary forces, e.g. Taharn Phran (paramilitary rangers) and Aor Sor (territorial defense volunteers), numbering at a total of more than 60,000 personnel. The security forces act to respond and use legal measures against the insurgents, e.g. BRN Coordinates, and PULO, through the legal jurisdiction granted by the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code under ordinary situation, as well as the Martial Laws Act and the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in State of Emergency. The military measure used consisted of the deployment of "combined force" in the area, particularly at the field command level, with an operating team in the village, a rapid response unit and a patrol unit to receive hostile contact, conduct surround-and-search operation, and sabotage non-state armed forces. The state's forces also include armed civilian or volunteer forces numbering at more than 80,000 personnel, which consisted of the Chor Ror Bor (Village Security Team) and Aor Ror Bor (Village Security Volunteers) in more than 3,000 villages throughout the Deep South. The state's armed forces were the main actor in counter-insurgency (COIN) operations, with the total number of military, paramilitary, and civilian forces (including the military, the police, taharn phran, Aor Sor, Chor Ror Bor, and Aor Ror Bor) of approximately 150,000 personnel. [Source: Srisompob Jitpiromsri, DeepSouthWatch, Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD), Prince of Songkla University Pattani Campus, December 23, 2012 ]
“Analysis by Deep South Watch showed that this massive security force of the state sector of 150,000 personnel was maintained to fight against the anti-state forces, i.e. BRN, PULO, and various “Juwae” factions. Military intelligence sources indicated that approximately 9,616 "Jawae" were present. Although the situation could be controlled to a certain extent, but the situation in the Deep South could be clearly observed as an armed conflict.
“The second cause for the force to balance the expansion of the violence was the state’s adjustment in its peace policy, found in both the government (the political branch) and the security branch of the state. A key change occurred during a high-level policy-making session in 2012, in which the National Security Council of Thailand (NSC) released a new national security policy regarding the situation in the South titled “Policy for Administration and Development of the Deep South, B.E. 2555-2557 (2012-2014 AD)”, announced in March 2012, with provision for: “Creation of an environment which facilitates dialogues to find a solution out of the conflict and provide guarantees to those involved and the stakeholders in the peace process.”
“In addition, the NSC also aimed to create a systematic and effective administration and development of the Deep South Provinces with integrated participation from all sectors, based on valid evidence and knowledge in providing valid and proper solutions. On the part of the 4th Region Army, the 4th Region Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) announced the policy of "Weaving Hearts for Peace," which emphasized the opportunities for those whose opinions differed from the state to have channels for expressing their viewpoints and become involved in solving the problem. The 6 strategies used by the 4th Region ISOC, i.e. the 6-stems strategy, were: 1) Making an understanding with the people; 2) Development of human resources; 3) Solving the problem of overlapping threats; 4) justice and human rights; 5) Providing safety for the people's lives and properties; and 6) The people's participation. While the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) also designated 9 strategies to support the NSC's policy, particularly the 3rd strategy to "...create a space and environment to find a peaceful exit to the conflict..."
Development of the State's Security and Peace Policy in the Muslim South
Srisompob Jitpiromsri wrote on DeepSouthWatch: “Development of the state's security and peace policy is a continuing evolution of the policy to manage the problem in the Deep South, which begin in 2004, starting with the enforcement of the Martial Laws Act in 2004, followed by the announcement of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in State of Emergency in 2005, the coup d’état against the Thaksin government and the use of heavy military means in surround-and-search operations and the surge in military manpower in 2007, the enactment of the Internal Security Operations Act of 2008, and the policies on administration and development of the Deep South by the National Security Council (NSC) in March 2012. The mentioned policies and measures could respond to the imminent problems during each period, yet the situation of unrest still progressed to a more chronic state in the latter phases. [Source: Srisompob Jitpiromsri, DeepSouthWatch, Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD), Prince of Songkla University Pattani Campus, December 23, 2012 ]
“The "9-5-29" code of the operation to extinguish the southern fire with the aim of integration and establishment of the Committee to Mobilize Policy and Strategy to Solve Problems in the Southern Border Provinces Operation Center (CPS-OS) also lacks progress, particularly when the political sector had problems with the internal management of the government. The political sector could not find a proper office in-charge with adequate capacity, knowledge and experience to solve the problems in the south. A key issue here was that even though there were as many as 29 objectives to determine the power structure, policy, strategy, and joint strategic goals, but without a strong political will, the 9-5-29 code could become a zero when there was no actual mobilization. Upon military and political invasions through waves of insurgency attacks in July, August, September, and from the month of Ramadan onwards, the state appeared to be on the defensive side once again. Thus the situation had become more intensively violent and the situation has become more convoluting and enigmatic.
“The final cause was the problem of using the discursive language in the policy and progressive ideas by the state, in which there were limitations due to the negligence of the locals, civil societies, and grassroots level organizations who were the real "insiders" who actually understood the problem. This is the problem of incomprehensive visualization of the peace process. A real and sustainable peace could only exist from the processes of the insiders. Modification of the public administration system to be effective is difficult to undertake, and is not the real solution to the conflict.
Road Maps for Peace in the the Muslim South?
Srisompob Jitpiromsri wrote on DeepSouthWatch: “A key variable in solving the problem of violence for peace in the Deep South is a process stemming from the inside. The power of local civil societies should be enhanced to have the role of being the mediator and the "common space" in the peace process. What is a peace process stemming from the insiders? This is a transformation of conflict that would lead towards creation of a common space. A key component is the idea that conflict is NOT something that must be eliminated. Rather, conflict may be something of value and an inevitable necessity for social and developmental change. On the other hand, this idea also deems the use of violence as an "avoidable component" in the relationship and interactions between the conflicting parties. An important point in this transformation is the creation of a creative relationship between the actors in the conflict and the creation of necessary structures and mechanisms for creation of sustainable peace. [Source: Srisompob Jitpiromsri, DeepSouthWatch, Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD), Prince of Songkla University Pattani Campus, December 23, 2012 ]
“The Road Map for Deep South Peace is actually being drawn under the current situation, and the peace process is currently making progress one step at a time, from little to large. The Pa(t)tani Peace Processes (PPP) is thus a creation of a complex and non-linear political space that would create conflict transformation using a diverse variety of peace-supporting structures that could change itself according to the events, with the goal of creating political discourses or paradigm to support a powerful and sustainable peace process. The first approach emphasizes on peace as the main target outcome (peace-writ-large). This process involves individuals from various sectors and factions with different final objectives. The Patani liberation movement or the insurgents aim to separate the area into a new, independent state. The Thai state aims to protect the rights, security, and sovereign power and security of the nation and maintain status quo. Local civil societies aim to decentralize the governing authority and solve the problem of conflict. The grassroots people, meanwhile, aim to demand justice and solve problems related to the economy and their own well-being. Thus peace-writ-large refers to the fact that all parties, particularly the state and the insurgents, either come to discuss and negotiate or fight each other until a decisive victory is reached, resulting in negative peace. Therefore, the peace process in this approach would consist of fighting, discussions, and negotiations with one another. An example of this approach can be found in present-day Mindanao, in which the two parties to the conflict have undergone fighting, talks, negotiations, and compromises for an extensive period of time, eventually resulting in an agreement. The government of the Philippines agreed to accept the status of the Bangsa Moro people, and a framework for peace talks was eventually achieved.
The second approach emphasizes on creation of small-scale peace (peace-writ-little). In this approach, small-scale areas of peace are created in different places using an incremental approach. The mentioned process would gather all parties to the conflict into a “space for relationships”. In this sense, those involved in the process may include members of the anti-state movements, the existing institutions, the military, the policy, civilians, civil society groups, and both Buddhist and Muslim Malay villagers, as well as various stakeholders. The second approach would create an agreement that relies on mutually-accepted processes and principles between all stakeholders. This type of peace process would rely on the "insiders" to create a common space to solve the problem together, one step at a time, and enhance peace through various issues: culture, religion, language, education, and peaceful co-existence, justice in everyday life and providing relief and compensation for the losses due to the unrest, etc.
As mentioned earlier, the peace-writ-little approach is not only an approach towards peace, but also aims to create a complex and non-linear “political space” that would create conflict transformation using a diverse variety of peace-supporting structures that could change itself according to the situation. The process would create a political discourse or paradigm to support a powerful and sustainable peace process.
A key point in the relationship between the peace-writ-large and peace-writ-little approaches is that at the end, peace-writ-little would eventually overlap with peace-writ-large and would lead towards negotiations on the big issues as shown in the first Road Map. This is what the civil societies and grassroots organizations in the area are studying and developing themselves in order to make proposals in the peace process, including the proposal for special administration, peace talks with differing groups, creation of justice, provision of relief to families who have experienced losses from the events, solving the problem of drugs and reforming security actions in the Deep South.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.
Last updated May 2014