User:Brian McNeil/work/South Thailand insurgency

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Historical background[edit]

Loosely governed by the Kingdom of Siam since the 16th century, the northern part of the Malay Peninsula was eventually divided between the British colonial administration of Malaya and Siam. The British administration formally recognised Siamese sovereignty over the former Malay sultinate of Pattani in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. This sultinate was divided up into the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala in 1933.

Through the 20th century, the area was, to some extent, integrated into Thai society. People in the region acquired Thai names, and there was substantial Thai Buddhist settlement in the area. Despite Thai becoming the language of government and business, some 2.6 million people in the three provinces, as well as some districts of Songkhla province, speak Malay as their first language and have remained Muslim despite considerable missionary efforts by Buddhists. Current census figures for the Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat provinces identify over 80% of the population as Muslim, however the Pattani Malays do not strongly identify with their Malaysian neighbours, speaking a local dialect of the language called Yawi.

Insurgency background[edit]

Recent violence in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces of Thailand has a historical basis going back to the 16th century. Pattani, one of the northern sultinates on the Malay Peninsula, was at that time loosely governed by the Kingdom of Siam. The British colonial administration of Malaya formally recognised Siamese sovereignty in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, the Sultinate was divided into the provinces Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala in 1933. Along with Songkhla Province, the region has had a recognisable separatist movement since some time in the 1930s, seeking to establish an independent state, Patani Darussalam (Patani, Land of Peace).

Throughout the 20th century there have been considerable efforts to integrate the southern provinces into mainstream Thai culture. Attempts to convert Muslims to Buddhism have been widespread, and Thai has been established as the common language in the region, despite some 2.6 million people having a dialect of Malay as their first language.

Reports on insurgency activity[edit]



" Four teachers were seriously injured in a single shooting attack which took place when they were waiting for military officers to escort them home in Krong Pinang district of Yala province. ... Jintana Thongpan, Phiradi Phinyo, Pairoj Srimuang, and Anand Sulong, of Ban Lue Mu school, were in a pick-up truck which was parked near their school when gunmen jumped out from the bush and opened fire on them. "
"A powerful bomb explosion in the evening in Yala, a province in the deep South, injured 20 people, two seriously."
"Yala – Suspected Muslim militants opened fire on shoppers at a busy morning market yesterday, killing three civilian defence volunteers. ... The attack took place in the violence-prone district of Bannang Sata in Yala, where men armed with shotguns fired on shoppers buying fruit and vegetables at the Taling Chan market."
"Three high-ranking leaders of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) insurgent group were captured yesterday in a raid on a house in Yala's Bannang Sata district. ... 100 soldiers and policemen arrested ... Abdulromae Saedae, 43, Mueli Jaeni, 48, and Marosa Golae, 42 ... thought to have held the ranks of captain, lieutenant, and sub-lieutenant, respectively, ... Police said the three men played key roles in a raid on the Banang Sata district police station last year"
"A suspected insurgent was shot dead by a policeman after he and other two assailants killed a border patrol police officer in a shooting incident Tuesday morning. "
"Narathiwat – Security forces carried out a series of predawn raids in Narathiwat’s Tanyong Limoh village yesterday, uncovering a weapons and explosives cache containing guns they say were stolen in a daring heist at an army base two years ago. ... The weapons were found buried behind a house in the troubled village in Rangae district, which security forces say is notorious for harboring Islamic insurgents."
"PATTANI, Feb 26 (TNA) - A combined police and military unit are in hot pursuit of a group of southern militants following an attack Saturday night which left one soldier dead and at least one insurgent killed, while two others were wounded."
"A bomb injured six police officers and three villagers Wednesday in Songkla province police said."
"Schools, government buildings and transmission towers were set ablaze in 26 locations across Pattani and Songkhla provinces, while two people were killed in drive-by shootings in more violence in the South. ... Fires were started in 19 places across eight districts of Pattani, including a school and a local administration building, while cellphone transmission towers were torched at seven sites in Songkhla’s Thepa district."
"Narathiwat – A six-year-old girl and her mother were the latest victims of seemingly indiscriminate attacks in the South when a bomb was detonated outside a Buddhist temple in Sungai Kolok yesterday morning. ... Salee Prasutthawee, 47, and her daughter, Wannika Boonma, were both seriously injured by flying shrapnel ... bomb, made out of urea fertilizer, had been packed with one-inch nails, and had been triggered by a mobile phone."
"44-year-old man ... gunned down late Saturday by two militants riding on a motorcycle in Pattani, ... separate attack early Sunday, a bomb exploded in front of a Buddhist temple in Pattani, wounding a woman and her 11-year-old daughter."
"An ice cream vendor was gunned down in front of his eight-year-old son in a drive-by shooting in the violence-plagued province of Yala on Wednesday."
"In what may be the most serious direct assault on government officials and civilians, at least six persons were killed in this southern border province of Pattani Thursday morning ... a gunman fired on a local administration office in violence-stricken Pattani ... A television journalist from Channel 3 was among the dead."
"Five more people have been killed in continuing attacks in the southern border provinces, including a Chinese trader shot dead in front of his father, police said yesterday. ... The Chinese nationals, actually residents of Bangkok, were working in the area temporarily, police said. ... Security forces also announced a number of arrests and weapons seizures yesterday. The arrests included that of a man wanted for the murder of two marines in a brazen attack at a train station in January."
"Police arrested six suspected insurgents and seized a weapon stolen from an official nearly 18 years ago, according to a report on the progress in arresting some suspects involved in the national security cases."
"Six men accused of being key players in a separatist insurgency were arrested yesterday in a series of pre-dawn raids by security forces across Pattani province. ... More than 200 police and soldiers raided homes in five districts in search of suspected militants, whose movements they said had been reported by local villagers."
"A man who saw insurgents moving weapons was shot yesterday, and a party ambushed in the latest spate of violence in Narathiwat... Somsak Boonkuea, 28, was shot in the wrist on Rangae-Bangorana road, 60m from Rangae district police station... Police said he was driving a motorcycle to a friend's house when he spotted a pillion rider of another motorcycle carrying two AK47s in a fertiliser bag, covered by a loincloth."
"Two bombs exploded and a defense volunteer was killed in the restive South yesterday just hours ahead of a visit by acting Prime Minister Chitchai Wannasathit, who hailed the government’s counterinsurgency measures a huge success... Chitchai, who is also the government’s security chief, said efforts to curb a wave of separatist violence were proving effective, and insurgents were either turning themselves in or were planning to flee the country as a result of the crackdown... Chitchai’s comments came ahead of a visit to Narathiwat, where a noodle shop was bombed and a civilian defense volunteer shot dead just hours before his arrival in what police said were attempts to discredit him."
" Two police and a poll worker were killed in the deep South as insurgents tried to disrupt the Senate election yesterday. The attacks came a day after the cabinet said it would extend emergency rule for another three months in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat."

Thai political background[edit]



"Interior Minister Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Wanthana Sunday morning held talks on the continuing violence in the deep South with the Chula Rajamontri, Thailand's Muslim religious leader, while two persons were shot dead by suspected militants in two southern provinces."
"As the National Reconciliation Committee (NRC)’s one-year mandate draws to a close, Chairman Anand Panyarachun said this week that the majority of Thais are still ignorant about the causes of the violence in the southern border provinces. ... The NRC’s 12-month mandate to investigate the root causes of more than two years of bloody violence in the three Malay-Muslim majority border provinces finishes at the end of March when it will present its recommendations for dealing with the region’s problems to the government. ... “Fear, vengeance and mistrust are at the root of this insurgency, and over the past ten months the NRC has proposed measures to solve these problems,” Anand said. ... Srisompob Jitphiromsri, a political scientist at Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani ... “A change in politics in Bangkok should have a dramatic effect on the South,” he said. “It seems whoever makes up the next government will be more flexible on policy in the South, but we all have to wait and see what transpires of course.”"

Relations with Malaysia[edit]

Relations with neighbouring Malaysia have become strained between Bangkok and Malaysian counterparts over the insurgency in the southernmost provinces of Thailand. Main issue of contention is the fleeing of over 100 villagers across the border into Malaysia where they remain and the government refuses to repatriate them until the Thai government has given assurances on their human rights.

"Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says creating equality of opportunity for Muslims in the South was crucial to curbing the recent ethnic unrest in the region. ... Malaysia was "very concerned" and wanted to help create a "peaceful and stable" southern Thailand, which borders Malaysia, Abdullah told reporters. He said spreading the message that Islam preaches non-violence was one important factor in curbing unrest. "
"Malaysia has issued travel warning to its citizens after a bomb attack killed a Malay man in Sungai Kolok, Narathiwat province last Sunday."
"Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said that the insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost provinces was the focus of his talks yesterday with former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad. ... two men met for an hour ... prime minister refused to give further details, characterising his meeting as a private, one-on-one discussion. ... foreign minister said there had still been no progress on the issue of the 131 Thai Muslims who fled to Malaysia in August. ... Malaysia has said that it will not repatriate the villagers unless Bangkok guarantees their human rights."
"The Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times reported this morning that the 131 Thai Muslims who fled to Malaysia last August will soon be coming home."
"Security arrangements along border areas will be improved to prevent suspected insurgents in Thailand's deep South to easily cross the frontier into neighbouring Malaysia, Defence Minister Gen. Thammarak Isarangura Na Ayutthaya said here on Friday. ... overnment had planned stricter security arrangements along the Thai-Malaysian border ... erecting strong structures or barriers along the border areas on the Thai soil. ... Malaysian is believed to understand and cooperate well with the Thai government"
"Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Monday ordered an investigation into a bomb attack in Sungai-Kolok district in Narathiwat last Saturday, discounting the widely held suspicion that the bomb could have been triggered by a mobile phone registered in neighbouring Malaysia."
"Thailand is asking neighboring Malaysia to help stop separatists from triggering bombs in Thailand via mobile phones from across the border, a senior Thai official said. ... Thailand's assistant minister of information and communications technology, Kanawat Wasinsangwon ... said a bomb that exploded in a restaurant in Narathiwat early this month, slightly injuring three people, was triggered by a phone with a Malaysian SIM card."
"The remaining 130 Muslim villagers who fled across the border from Thailand's southernmost province of Narathiwat to Malaysia in last August have been reportedly released by the Malaysian authorities."
"Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Thursday that the 130 Thai Muslim refugees currently seeking asylum in the country will not be given a deadline to decide on whether or not to return home ... refugees remained at a holding centre in the north-eastern Terengganu state, adding that Malaysia would not interfere with efforts by Thai authorities to convince the group to return home. ... said that Malaysia's role was in "just giving them a temporary place to stay" until they decided it was to their best interest to return. "

Prepaid mobile phones[edit]

Policy has been implemented to require all prepaid mobiles to be registered in the southern provinces. Visitors from other parts of Thailand will also require to be registered and be treated as if roaming when visiting the area. Unregistered phones will be blocked as of midnight local time on November 15, 2005. Unregistered phones from across the border in Malaysia will also be blocked.

"The Southern Border Provinces Peace-building Command (SBPPC) warned residents in the restive South yesterday not to return missed calls from unknown callers because their cell phones could be manipulated to act as triggers for explosives."
"Narathiwat Governor Pracha Therat yesterday ordered a ban on mobile-phone SIM cards from Malaysia in the restive south after authorities found that a bomb in Sungai Kolok district on November 20, was detonated by mobile phone, despite official efforts to stymie such attacks ... The explosion in Sungai Kolok injured 12 people, including three police officers, was detonated by a mobile phone which used a pre-paid SIM card from Malaysia ... Cell-phone-detonated explosions remain a major concern as authorities have no effective means to control the deadly practise after phone registration did not work"
"Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya said he was satisfied with the rapid response of officials last night when suspected insurgents simultaneously burned cellphone signal transmission facilities in four southern provinces."