Saturday, 9 June 2007

Thailand and the Religion of Peace

9-June-07 update: added in new incidents since original post. It really is an appalling situation.

People in the West are currently too caught up with denying success in Iraq, supporting radical Islamists at home in the name of cultural equality and working themselves into a lather over the threat of global warming to take much notice of what's going on in Thailand. It's worth taking a look at the situation in more detail.

From AFP on 21-Mar-07:
Islamic separatists in Thailand's restive south are adopting Al-Qaeda's tactics, a top Thai general said Wednesday after a wave of gruesome beheadings and seemingly random attacks on civilians.

The increasingly bloody violence shows the growing Islamic influence on the separatists, General Watanachai Chaimuanwong told AFP in an interview at his office in the prime minister's Government House compound.

The Muslim-majority region along Thailand's southern border with Malaysia has suffered outbreaks of separatist violence ever since Bangkok annexed the area a century ago.

But Watanachai, the top security adviser to army-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, said that while previous generations of rebels were mainly motivated by nationalism, today's militants showed a greater tendency toward religious extremism.

"This is a group of young turk militants who want to challenge the old groups. Their operations are more gruesome and more violent because they have imported those techniques from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, with the goal of creating a pure Islamic state," he told AFP.
It's clear that the violence that's claimed thousands of lives over the last few years is due to more radical Islamists wanting their own state that comprises a part of southern Thailand and a part of northern Malaysia.

From The Nation on 28-Mar-07:
Thailand's junta leader said Wednesday Islamic separatists have infiltrated villages across the Muslim-majority south, making it difficult to identify the militants.

General Sonthi Boonyaratglin also told reporters that militants had intensified their attacks in recent months to scare residents from cooperating with authorities.

"The severity of the violence has increased after the coup, but it is because of the insurgents," he said after visiting an education project for Muslim youth in southern Thailand's Songkhla province.

"Insurgents target innocent people and try to create fear among local people," he added.

"The tactics of the insurgents have changed considerably. They now infiltrate into local communities."

Because the insurgents had blended into the communities, he said, "the government has difficulty in identifying who is behind the violence."

"Even after arrests, insurgents are sworn to secrecy so we don't know the masterminds of the violence. They don't expose who they are," he said.
Doesn't that sound exactly like what's going on in Iraq? The question is, are the terrorists in Thailand copying Al Qaeda's activities in Iraq or is there some command and control directly from Al Qaeda for these groups?

The International Crisis Group describes itself as "an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with some 130 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict." It has two Co-Chairs: Lord Christopher Patton, who you'll remember as the last Governor of Hong Kong, and Thomas Pickering, former US Ambassador to the UN, Russia, Israel etc. The President and CEO is none other than the unexceptional, underachieving and hugely over-rated (especially by himself) Australian ex-Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans. Basically, the ICG is a publicly funded think-tank that does a whole heap of talking but achieves even less than the United Nations.

In its recently released statement on the matter, the ICG includes:
Coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin and Prime Minister Surayud have taken the critical step of backing negotiations as the ultimate solution to the conflict but acknowledge that meaningful talks with insurgent leaders are a long way off. Preliminary discussions with exiled separatists faltered in 2006 when it became clear they had little influence on the ground. Ultimately, some form of negotiated autonomy may be the only answer, but the conditions that would make dialogue possible are not in place:
  • The government has been unable to identify the leadership of the insurgency. Indeed, it is not clear that there even exists an overall leadership capable of controlling the various groups committing the violence.
  • The Thai public is largely hostile to the idea of negotiations, and the embattled interim government does not have a lot of political capital to spare.
  • Meaningful negotiations require a government with a democratic mandate.
And then goes on to recommend that the Thai government:
On dialogue and negotiations

1. Continue to identify possible dialogue partners among insurgent groups.
2. Lay the groundwork through the national media for public acceptance of negotiations with insurgent leaders.

On justice and security

3. Re-establish a security presence with active patrols in all “red zones” – areas dominated by rebels.
4. Address rising communal tensions by deploying mixed Buddhist-Muslim security teams to work with communities in religiously divided areas so as to curb the perception that security forces are deployed to protect Buddhist residents from Muslims.
5. Avoid releasing suspects accused of violent crimes under pressure from protesters.
6. Amend the Emergency Decree to permit accountability of the security forces, ideally by repealing Sections 16 and 17.
7. Empower the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre’s justice maintenance centre (Soon Damrong Tham) to make decisions on complaints against officials without seeking approval from the Internal Security Operations Command.

On education

8. Redesign the Malay language curriculum for primary schools, using the local Patani Malay dialect instead of standard Malay.
9. Address the segregation of Buddhist and Muslim youth by establishing joint science and language labs for students of private Islamic and state-run schools.
10. Tackle the alienation of religious studies graduates by:
(a) allowing students who attain zanawiyah (high school) level to enrol for Islamic studies degrees at Thai government universities; and
(b) offering bridging courses to enable them to enter secular degree programs.
11. Introduce bridging courses and equivalency certificates to enable local graduates of foreign universities to enter their chosen professions.
If "The government has been unable to identify the leadership of the insurgency. Indeed, it is not clear that there even exists an overall leadership capable of controlling the various groups committing the violence" then how can the ICG recommend that the Thai government try to negotiate with them? It seems to me that in spite of the government wanting to negotiate, the terrorists are doing their best to remain anonymous. Doesn't seem like they're in a negotiating mood to me. Hands up all of the people who think that simply talking to these barbaric, child killing head-hackers will achieve anything?

You'll recall that a coup took place in Thailand last year, which ousted the unpopular and corrupt Prime Minister and government. On 02-Nov-06, the new PM apologised to the Muslims in the south:
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont apologized Thursday to Muslims in the southern part of Thailand for past government policies that had been blamed for stoking unrest in the rebellious region.

Speaking to 1,000 Muslim leaders, Mr. Surayud vowed to investigate the disappearance of Muslims since a separatist insurgency began in early 2004 and to root out corrupt officials in the three southernmost provinces.

"I'm here today to apologize for what past and present governments have done," Mr. Surayud said in this southern town, appealing for an end to violence that has killed more than 1,700 people. "I come here today to reach out to everyone and say: It's my fault. I am sorry," he said, admitting that as a former army chief he had failed to oppose the policies of the deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

Muslim leaders in the region praised him for apologizing. "His apology is a key to restoring peace in the future, which will take time, but it has already defused hostility and resentment in many Muslim minds," said Waedueramae Maminchi, leader of the Islamic Council of Pattani Province.
From various sources (including the LGF links, AFP, Reuters etc), I have compiled a list (at the end of this post) of attacks that have taken place over the last ten or so months in Thailand. Keep in mind the comment "...but it has already defused hostility and resentment in many Muslim minds" when you read what has been going on since the date of the apology on November 2, 2006.

Having read all of the above you would be left with the impression that the Muslim population in Thailand is significant and that it indeed seems fair for the majority to re-engineer society to accommodate the needs of Muslims, such as is being recommended.

The CIA World Factbook provides the following information on the religious make up of Thailand: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, Other 0.1%.

No wonder the majority wants Buddhism enshrined in the constitution. If what they've got going on now is being achieved by only 4.6% of the population then what happens when that is significantly increased, which Muslim populations tend to do due to their prolific fecundity.

As with all Islamist terror over the last few years its proponents are taking advantage of a weak opposition in order to expand. We see it all over the world so it should come as no surprise that Thailand is no different to anywhere else.

Here's the list of terrorist attacks and the opening line/paragraph of the news report from which they're drawn.

Insurgents opened fire on a police officer in the heart of a market in Narathiwat province, Thursday morning, riddling him with 14 bullets and killing him on the spot.

Muslim terrorists launched a spate of attacks in this southern border province, killing a Muslim teacher and a Muslim villager and injuring three officials.

At least 10 soldiers have been killed in a bomb attack by suspected militants in southern Thailand, officials say. The roadside bomb struck an army vehicle carrying around 12 soldiers as it drove through the province of Yala, the deputy governor said. The attack is one of the worst in the region in recent years. Another five people were killed in a separate incident in Songkhla province, when gunmen fired at local Muslims at a mosque, reports say.

A bomb planted on a motorcycle in a busy market in southern Thailand killed four people on Monday, the army said, the latest victims of a Muslim separatist insurgency in which more than 2,100 people have now died. “There are four dead and 23 injured, five of them seriously,” army spokesman Acra Tiproch said. Two of the dead were children.

Four Muslims have been killed by suspected Islamic rebels in separate shootings in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued south, police said Saturday.

Insurgents killed six people, including two teenaged boys, in separate shootings in Yala on Wednesday.

Insurgents shot dead a Buddhist man and burnt his body in an increasingly used atrocity in Yala early Tuesday, before detonating a bomb at police responding to the scene, wounding four people including a foreign photographer.

Suspected separatist rebels have shot dead five people in Thailand’s restive south, police said Sunday. Buddhist motorcycle mechanic and a Muslim villager were killed in separate drive-by shootings late Saturday in Yala province, local officers said.

Separatist insurgents on Monday shot dead a Thai-Buddhist couple working as fruit pickers in the majority-Muslim area of Bannang Sata, Yala provine and injured their three-year-old daughter, police said.

A Buddhist man was shot dead by suspected separatist militants on Thursday in Thailand’s restive south, police said, after two Muslims were killed overnight.

Seven soldiers were killed Wednesday in a bomb attack by separatist insurgents in Thailand’s restive south, military and police said.

Two security officers have been shot dead by suspected Islamic rebels in Thailand’s restive Muslim-majority south, police said Thursday.

Suspected Islamic insurgents in southern Thailand exploded a bomb at a busy night market and wounded 20 people Monday, police said. Earlier in the day, police found the bodies of two Buddhist villagers, one beheaded, apparently slain by Muslim rebels.

Suspected Muslim insurgents shot and killed two Buddhist laborers and then beheaded one of them as deadly violence and scattered bombings continued Wednesday in restive southern Thailand, police said.

A Buddhist woman was shot and burned alive in Thailand’s violence-torn Muslim-majority south on Wednesday, prompting angry protests in front of visiting army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin.

SUSPECTED separatist militants have killed three people in Thailand’s restive south, including a Muslim man blown apart by a car bomb, police said today.

Four Muslim men have been killed in shooting attacks by suspected Islamic militants in Thailand's restive south, police said Friday.

At least 13 people were injured in a bombing in Thailand's mainly Muslim south, one of a string of overnight attacks by suspected Islamic separatists, officials said Thursday.

SUSPECTED Islamic rebels shot dead four Buddhists while three others were injured in separate attacks in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south.

Two soldiers were killed Wednesday in pre-dawn attacks by separatists in Thailand's Muslim-majority south, police said, as the prime minister headed to the region.

Three Muslim schoolchildren were killed and seven injured in an attack by suspected insurgents at an Islamic school in restive southern Thailand, police said Sunday.

Suspected Muslim insurgents opened fire on nine Buddhists who were riding in a commuter van in Thailand’s restive south Wednesday, killing all of them execution-style, police said.

Suspected Islamic militants shot dead three workers from Myanmar and beheaded one of them during an attack on a construction site in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south, police said Monday.

Suspected Islamic separatists have killed three people in Thailand’s restive south, including one man they beheaded and set alight, police said Wednesday.

At least 28 bombs exploded Sunday in apparently coordinated attacks in parts of southern Thailand plagued by a Muslim insurgency, killing three people and wounding more than 50, the military said.

An ice cream vendor was killed and his headless body left sitting on the bicycle seat of his cart in Thailand’s rebellious Muslim south on Thursday, police said.

A Buddhist man in restive southern Thailand was beheaded by suspected Muslim insurgents who left a note by the body warning Buddhists to leave the area that has been gripped by bloody violence for three years, police said.

Five people have been killed by suspected Islamic separatists in Thailand’s deep south, as some schools reopened for the first time in a week after a wave of arson and bombings.

Insurgents shot a school director Friday afternoon in southern Thailand then set his vehicle on fire killing him in the flames, the English-language Bangkok Post newspaper website reported.

Hundreds of schools in Thailand’s restive south will shut their doors in response to increasingly vicious attacks by suspected Muslim insurgents against teachers and schools, an official said Saturday.

FIVE people were shot dead and one policeman was wounded in a string of drive-by shootings by suspected Islamic militants in Thailand’s restive Muslim-majority south, police said.

Eight bombs exploded almost simultaneously at car and motorcycle showrooms in restive southern Thailand on Thursday, wounding nine people, police said.

Militants detonated three small bombs at karaoke bars and at a roadside in Thailand’s rebellious Muslim south, wounding five people including two policemen.

Suspected Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand have burnt down three schools and shot and wounded a teacher.

Thailand’s interim prime minister publicly apologized Thursday for the former government’s hard-line policies against an Islamic insurgency, promising an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses by the administration deposed in a recent coup.

SUSPECTED Islamic militants today shot dead four Buddhists in two separate attacks in Thailand’s mainly Muslim south, where an insurgency has raged for more than two years, police said.

At least one Australian has been injured after a string of bombs tore apart a popular tourist area in Thailand, killing four people and wounding dozens.

Three bombs exploded almost simultaneously at two department stores and a hotel in the southern Thai town of Hat Yai on Saturday, wounding several people, police and the army said.

Muslim militants launched 23 coordinated time bomb attacks at commercial banks in this southern province Thursday, killing at least one man and severely injuring at least four bank customers, police said.

Four people are killed in two bomb attacks in southern Thailand, a stronghold of Muslim separatists.

Assailants carried out at least 40 bomb and arson attacks Tuesday night in Thailand’s three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces, police said. At least three people were reported hurt.

A teacher has been shot and killed in front of a classroom of children in southern Thailand, according to police.

Six people, among them a retired policeman, were killed during the last three days in violent attacks in the restive South near Malaysia, police said.

A series of bomb attacks in Thailand’s Muslim south were launched by militants to coincide with a meeting of Islamic leaders in Central Asia next week, a top Thai security official said on Saturday.

Five security officers have been killed by a roadside bomb in Thailand’s south. They were attacked by a group of suspected insurgents, who ambushed them as they were guarding teachers on their way to a school in Yala province.

Thailand has become somewhat inured to the daily violence that has claimed more than 1,300 lives over the past two years, a startling death toll in a country that is still much better known for its beaches and massage parlors than its homegrown terrorism. But the beating of Jooling Pangamoon, who taught art at the elementary school, shocked the country, both because of its brutality and because witnesses say the group that abducted Jooling was led by women.

Police in the southern Thai city of Narathiwat have arrested an Indonesian man who was found in possession of explosives, sparking fears that Muslim fundamentalists are planning new attacks in the south of the country. A series of 72 bomb attacks by suspected Muslim militants were reported in the past two days in the southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani

A SERIES of bombs rocked police stations, a government office and a tea shop in southern Thailand early today, wounding at least two people, police said

A BOMB killed five policemen and wounded three in Thailand’s rebellious Muslim south today, police said.


Anonymous said...

A good question to ask first is: Who benefits from the unrest in southern Thailand?

Consider that over 90% of China's oil goes through the Strait of Malacca, currently all but controlled by the U.S. Navy via its base at Singapore. In the last few years China has been looking for alternative routes to Malacca that would not be controlled by the U.S. Navy, and the best alternative appears to be building a canal across the Kra Isthmus in Thailand; a few years ago they approached the Thai government about it, and since it would be in the economic interest of both China and Thailand, they conducted a feasability study. Obviously the U.S. does NOT want China to have an alternate SLOC that avoids the Malacca chokepoint. Currently, the main thing holding up the project from starting to become a reality is the unrest in southern Thailand, the area through which the proposed Canal would have to go through. Who benefits from the unrest and concomitant prevention of the Kra Canal being built? The U.S. Considering that "Jemaah Islamiya", who by most informed estimates are assisting the Thai muslim separatists, are known to be a creation of Indonesian intelligence, and "Al Qaeda" is a C.I.A. sock puppet, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on in southern Thailand...

Jack Lacton said...

'realist' is obviously a parody name.

What you write demonstrates about as strong a grip on reality as the newly infamous Cho Seung-Hu. You are part of the completely morally bankrupt part of society lacking any fundamental value other than narcissism that is currently ruining the world.

Anonymous said...

And you are able to "disprove" anything I said by.... what? You can't, so you attack the messenger. Pull your head out of your arse, it will help you see how the world really works a hell of a lot more accurately than you can with it in its current location.

Jack Lacton said...

I can't disprove that Martians aren't preparing to invade Earth, either. Doesn't make it true.

I should do up a post on why there are so many ninnies that see conspiracies everywhere they look.

Anonymous said...

Honestly i Cant believe what 'Realist' just said. are these the views coming out of our schools and universities now days? man i would love to meet someone like this who blame anyone but the big green elephent in the room. and to think the Thai government has apologised! Disguasting appeasement. When i visited Thai they wouldnt stop talking about how they hate muslims and its sick that this has been allwed to happen for as long as it has.

Anonymous said...

Realist has got to be a joke. I could take exactly the same premise (external super power interfering in Thai politics) and blame China. Let's see:

China stirs up militants in the proposed area of the canal. China then creates a catastrophe, truther-like. Perhaps something like an oil tanker being attacked and destroyed. China then intervenes, arguing that it is necessary for regional security and environmental protection, and that the U.S.A is unable to provide protection to legitimate commerce. Inside the Chinese Protection Zone, public works are completed to improve the security and propsperity of the area, including, of course, a canal. Given that Al-Qaeda has served China's international aims in distracting the U.S.A from the real threat, itself, it is clear that Al-Qaeda is a Chinese sock-puppet.

Done. Now you just have to ask yourself, which is a more likely scenario. Perhaps when you are considering the answer you might just ask yourself, which of the two superpowers has actually forcibly taken control of a foreign country and kept it for over 20 years despite international condemnation...