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|20-02-2013, 05:02 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Southern Violence : Putting a face to the conflict in Thailand's south
Putting a face to the conflict in Thailand's south
19 February 2013
Jonathan Head meets the bereaved families of Thai insurgents
Nine years ago, a forgotten conflict in the far south of Thailand flared up in the most dramatic way.
Gunmen raided a military arms depot, killing the four guards and making off with around 400 assault rifles.
Three months later waves of insurgents, armed with some of those captured weapons, launched co-ordinated attacks on 11 police posts in an almost suicidal fashion - 107 of them were killed, including 32 who had taken shelter in the historic Krue Se mosque in Pattani.
The insurgency, as it is now known, has killed more than 5,000 people, 550 of them members of the Thai security forces.
Most of the attacks have been on a small scale - drive-by shootings by gunmen on motorbikes, small roadside bombs detonated by mobile phones, gruesome beheadings of traders or rubber-tappers heading to work in the early morning.
Darunee Alee says she refuses to be downcast after her husband's death
The violence has never spread beyond the three-and-a-half provinces next to the Malaysian border, which have predominantly Malay Muslim populations. The almost daily attacks rarely make headlines, and the insurgents, who are mainly young Muslim men, make few statements and do not acknowledge any centralised leadership.
Theirs remains a faceless movement, although they are presumed to be fighting for the goal of an independent Islamic state, inspired by the old Malay sultanate of Pattani, which used to govern this region until it was annexed by Thailand in 1909.
But last week, a failed insurgent assault on a Thai marine base lifted the mask for a moment.
The marines had been warned and met the night-time raiders with booby traps and volleys of gunfire.
Sixteen of the militants were killed, their bodies strewn among the rubber trees. Most of them were well-known by the Thai authorities. Some were local - from the village of Tanyong, just a 10-minute drive from the base.
Many of the people in this region do not speak Thai and do not readily talk to outsiders, especially journalists. There is a climate of fear, created by the years of insurgent attacks and military retaliation.
Proud of death
But the day after the marine base raid, the families of three of the insurgents who lived next door to each other in Tanyong were receiving visitors and speaking.
I met the father and widow of 25-year-old Sa-oudi Alee. Both said they were proud of the way he had died, fighting for his beliefs.
Marohso Jantarawadee, shown here with his wife, was the leader of the group
Darunee Alee has been left to bring up their 18-month-old son, but refused to be downcast.
Why did Sa-oudi feel he had to join the insurgents, I asked?
She said that like many of the other insurgents, he became involved after the Tak Bai incident in October 2004, when the Thai army detained dozens of Muslim men and piled them, tied up, on top of each other in trucks before driving them for three hours.
Seventy-eight of them died on the journey from being crushed or suffocated.
Sa-oudi had spent two years in jail and was released last year. His passport showed he had also travelled six times to Malaysia between 2007 and 2008, although his family were unclear what he was doing there.
Darunee's father-in-law, Matohe Alee, has eight surviving children, six of them boys. Would he allow them to follow their brother and join the insurgency?
He would try to stop them, he said, but they don't always listen.
Murmurs of approval
Marta Majid has three young daughters. She knew her husband, Hasem, was involved with the insurgents. He stayed away from home and the army often searched her house.
They often look at these insurgents as local heroes - they may not agree with the brutality but I can assure you they share the same sentiments.”Don Pathan Journalist
But his violent death clearly came as a shock and she looked bewildered.
Most of his head was blown off in the attack, and she described having to identify him by the shape of his lower jaw.
Just down the road, a steady stream of neighbours was filing through the brand-new home of Marohso Jantarawadee to pay their respects to his widow, Rusanee.
He was the commander of the operation against the base and one of Thailand's most wanted men, with more than 12 arrest warrants against him and a price on his head.
Through her tears, Rusanee said she felt honoured to have been his wife, although she grieved that their young son would never know his father.
There were murmurs of approval from the visitors in the house. None questioned an insurgent campaign which has targeted teachers, Buddhist monks and anyone working for the Thai state.
Instead they recounted their own narrative, of repeated harassment by the authorities.
On the road outside, a platoon of Thai soldiers patrolled carefully, keeping a lookout for ambushes, prodding gingerly in the thick, tropical vegetation for possible bombs.
They have a good idea who the insurgent families are, but have found it hard to track down leaders in a movement which is so fragmented.
Sometimes suspected insurgents are taken in for questioning.
At times in the past they have been tortured, although the military has been presenting its most conciliatory face after last week's attack, regretting the loss of life and referring to the insurgents as "Thai citizens, like us".
The death of Marohso, though, is clearly seen as a coup.
But it will not change the course of the conflict, said Don Pathan, a long-time reporter and researcher on Thailand's deep south.
Thai soldiers sometimes take suspected insurgents for questioning
"Most of the people here share the same sentiment, the same historical mistrust of the Thai state", he said.
"They often look at these insurgents as local heroes. They may not agree with the brutality but I can assure you they share the same sentiments.
"And a lot of these the insurgents are their kids, their nephews, their neighbours' nephews - they are not going to turn them in."
He warned that although the insurgents use the language of jihad, and some of the methods of other jihadist groups, the conflict is at heart about Malay-Pattani nationalism and not Islam.
There are few signs that this or any other Thai government recognises that.
The current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra did propose some form of autonomy during her election campaign two years ago, but quickly dropped it in the face of opposition from the military.
The army, the police, local politicians and the insurgents are all believed to make significant money from the rampant smuggling of everything from drugs, to people, to diesel fuel, in this border region.
There seems little incentive to risk bold initiatives that might end the fighting.
And so it grinds on, into its tenth year.
"Keeping quiet while monks and other peaceful protesters are murdered and jailed is not evidence of constructive engagement." - Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch.
"I think...I think it's in my basement. Let me go upstairs and check" - M.C. Escher
|20-02-2013, 05:26 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Last Online: 03-06-2014 09:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Tends to get ahead of himself occasionally.
Nice informative OP, Mid.
You still are finding the more delicate pieces.
Quality, less quanity.
There is so much material regarding the restless south, it staggers.
More often than not, orginating from outside sources.
Hard pressed to find Thai-based critique, opinion, or commentary amongst Thai peers.
|21-02-2013, 12:35 AM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Bring out truth about Tak Bai: rights advocate - The Nation
Bring out truth about Tak Bai: rights advocate
The Nation February 19, 2013 1:00 am
Says govt must deal swiftly with militants' tactic in trying to gain locals' sympathy
The government must quickly deal with the latest tactic of the insurgents in raising the spectre of 2004's Tak Bai incident to gain the sympathy of locals in the South, Human Rights Watch researcher Sunai Phasuk said yesterday.
"The government must bring out the truth about the Tak Bai incident," Sunai said.
Insurgents have said last Wednesday's attack on a Narathiwat marine base in which 16 insurgents were killed was in retaliation for Tak Bai. In the October 2004 incident, 1,500 men demonstrated against the detention of six men at a police station in Narathiwat's Tak Bai district. The protesters were rounded up and loaded with their hands bound behind them into trucks for transport to a nearby military base. At least 86 of the detainees died along the way, mostly of suffocation.
"Instead of saying that it has to protect the marine base, the government should set up a committee to probe the insurgents' claim that those who were ambushed and killed by the marines last Wednesday were those involved in the Tak Bai incident,'' Sunai said.
He also criticised the government's tactic of giving compensation to families of slain insurgents as well as victims of insurgent attacks. "This method does not work because lives cannot be brought back with money,'' Sunai said.
He said the government's failure to punish the security officials responsible for the Tak Bai deaths must be corrected because insurgents have been using this point to gain sympathy for their cause.
"The Justice Ministry's efforts to bring about justice in the restive South must be renewed. The government should get Chaturon Chaisang back to do this task,'' he said.
Sunai also warned against propagating the message that locals are cooperating with the government. "The officials should nurture good ties with locals but if they say locals are helping them crack down on insurgents, the locals will be killed."
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung may have good intentions but he lacks understanding about the situation, Sunai said, citing Chalerm's proposal to drop internal security charges against suspects who surrender and confess that they committed the offence because they had been misled.
Sunai also said the series of bomb attacks on Saturday and Sunday that resulted in four deaths in Pattani's city centre, was the result of tit-for-tat tactics by the insurgents, who have turned to attacking Thai civilians because they believe Thais belong to the Thai state.
When pressured in one area, insurgents in the South might move to cause violence in other areas, Sunai warned, referring to the "squeezing the balloons" theory - when security is tightened in one area, the insurgents will move to areas under less pressure.
Meanwhile, Internal Security Operations Command Region Four spokesman Colonel Pramot Prom-in expressed confidence that suspects in the weekend's bombings in Pattani would be arrested soon. Some of the attackers were caught on security camera footage, though it will be harder to identify those who camouflaged themselves by wearing women's clothes and hiding the bomb under a hijab.
Although security officials were able to prevent casualties from bombs planted on Saturday, Sunday's bombing near Pattani's clock tower could not be prevented because insurgents were already hiding at the scene and had quickly improvised the explosive device, Pramot said.
Asked to confirm a claim that one of 16 insurgents who died during last Wednesday's attack on the marine base was a student at Rajabhat University, Pramot said the university should make students understand why security officials had to act. He added that misunderstandings about the insurgency must be solved at all pondok religious schools in the South.
"Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar
|21-02-2013, 04:04 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Thailand’s Insurgency Enters Its Second Generation
by Joshua Kurlantzick
February 20, 2013
Security personnel investigate around bodies of insurgents at the site of an attack on an army base in the troubled southern province of Narathiwat February 13, 2013 (Surapan Boonthanom/Courtesy Reuters).
In all the recent news about the southern Thailand insurgency—a failed attack by insurgents on a marine base in the south, and a string of attacks in recent days that included at least fifty bombings and shootings—there has not been enough attention paid to the motivations of some of the insurgents killed in the last week. In the Bangkok Post, Veera Prateepchaikul alludes to the problem: Several of the insurgents killed by Thai forces in the marine attack had been present at a protest in 2004 at Tak Bai at which at least seventy-eight protestors were stuffed into hot, airless trucks and ultimately suffocated to death.
As Veera notes, the alleged head of the attackers on the marine base, Maroso Chatharawadee, was present at Tak Bai. After the protest, he was arrested and allegedly beaten by soldiers with rifle butts. His mother told reporters that the treatment by the army helped radicalize him, and he has been implicated in a string of violent attacks since then, leading up to the recent marine base firefight. Several other insurgents involved in the marine attack also apparently were radicalized by the Tak Bai incident. The Thai army’s—and the Thai government’s —greatest failing in the south is its utter lack of winning local hearts and minds, key to any effective counterinsurgency. It is indeed shocking that after so many years, and so much training—both from foreign armies and from Thai officers who effectively handled counterinsurgency during the 1970s in the Thai northeast—the Thai soldiers who operate in the south seem to have picked up so little from common counterinsurgency strategy guides.
Though the insurgents are certainly ruthless and brutal, the army also has been, and for a decade no army officers or rangers have been held accountable for their actions in the south, Veera writes. Instead, they have helped generate a newer, even more alienated generation of southern militants.
|21-02-2013, 05:06 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Last Online: Yesterday 04:10 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Not sure where to post this link i am listening to it now.Despatches from around the world: Jonathan Head on a little-reported but long-running conflict in southern Thailand
BBC Radio 4 - From Our Own Correspondent, 21/02/2013
|21-02-2013, 11:43 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Peace may be achieved if South handed to southerners - The Nation
Peace may be achieved if South handed to southerners
The Nation February 22, 2013 1:00 am
Speculation about the South insurgency is neither here nor there, says Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
He has been continuously voicing concern about the ensuing confusion and undue media attention every time leading figures start faulting each other for every violent incident.
Reports from the strife-torn region over the past nine years show that regardless of whether an attack or counterattack is given a negative or positive spin, peace is still an elusive goal in the southernmost provinces.
If government leaders and critics try to test a new counterinsurgency idea every time a bomb goes off, then people living in the South will not just be prey to insurgency but will become victims of confusing attempts to quell violence as well.
Prayuth was very perceptive when he pointed out that speculative talks were irrelevant to ensuring peace and ending strife.
The insurgency has persisted since 2004 and the successive governments, under Thaksin Shinawatra, Surayud Chulanont, Samak Sundaravej, Somchai Wongsawat, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Yingluck, have appeared befuddled about how to resolve the situation.
The best brains on counterinsurgency, politicians of all stripes, community leaders, Islamic scholars, academics from various disciplines and prominent figures from all sectors of society have had their say on what should be done in order to bring about peace.
The country appears to be overloaded with ideas, but lacks the resolve to choose and bring ideas to fruition.
In 2004 there were 1,154 violent incidents; 2,078 attacks in 2005; 1,934 in 2006; 2,475 in 2007; 1,370 in 2008; 1,348 in 2009; 1,165 in 2010; 1,085 in 2011; and 1,450 in 2012.
In these nine years, only 250 identified combatants were killed compared to 750 policemen and soldiers.
Hence, even if the insurgency comes to a standstill, it will take about three centuries to wipe out the 9,822 combatant and non-combatant forces.
The authorities and the insurgents should think carefully about the merits and demerits of holding the country hostage to this long-drawn-out violence.
The crux of the problem is a demand for independence.
Though the insurgency movement is far from achieving enough credibility to lead a sovereign state of Pattani, it could continue the senseless killing of people and inflicting damages for an indefinite period.
And there is nothing the government can do about it as long as locals continue sympathising with the insurgents.
Britain's suppression of the Malaya insurgency was one of the few success stories in the last century. In this case, one of the most critical factors for countering the movement was people's rejection of the insurgents. The Malays turned their back on the movement led by Chinese descendants.
Unfortunately, in the South, the insurgents are inseparable from local residents and a number of their leaders are ex-officials of local governments who have opted to part ways with the central government.
Yet, the authorities are proud that over the past nine years, they have been able to cut down the number of red-zone villages from 319 to 176, which means that all but 176 villages are open to the authorities.
However, this so-called success proves nothing really because insurgents have access to all areas, including the heavily fortified government installations, while the authorities are not welcomed at 176 villages.
Peace will remain elusive until the central government and insurgents can work out a solution on political empowerment.
Independence may not be realistic at this juncture, but local residents should be allowed to administer their own affairs, including security measures.
|22-02-2013, 02:30 AM||#10 (permalink)|
Simple answer ... round up the dissidents and deport them over the Malaysian border. \they can live in a Muslim environment. However; the Malaysian Govt has a dim view of Muslim extremeists, so my Malaysian contacts tell me.
|22-02-2013, 03:00 AM||#11 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Frinton on sea and Ban Pak
^ I dont think its that simple ,, they feel that land is still theirs , they have made no other trouble in any areas that was nothing to do with them before the exchange took place.
Old beliefs die hard if ever
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