Southern Thailand seeks justice, not apology
military coup of 19 September 2006 under the leadership of Thailand's first
Muslim army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin raised some hope for resolution
of the insurgency in Southern Thailand.
military backed Prime Minister General (Retd) Surayud Chulanont pledged to make
peace in the southern region a priority. Since his appointment as Prime
Minister on 1 October 2006, General (Retd) Chulanont visited the Southern
region three times, the last being on 16 November 2006, and apologised for Thaksin Shinawatra's
problems of Southern
Thaksin Shinawatra and Prime Minister Chulanont failed to appreciate the fact
and therefore, also failed to assuage the sentiments of the ethnic Malay
Increased violence: The incidents of November 2006
expectation of resolution of the crisis in Southern Thailand was found to be premature. There has been a
spurt of incidents of gross violations of international humanitarian laws by
the armed opposition groups. Some of the incidents of November 2006 are
the night of 4 November 2006, suspected Muslims insurgents burnt down
three schools and shot and wounded a teacher in Yala province.
November 2006, two
army personnel were killed and three others wounded by a roadside bomb at Bajor
village in Yala province.
November 2006, two
police personnel were reportedly shot dead in Yaha district in Yala province.
The attackers fled with the policemen's guns after killing them.
Thongpetch Chatchamni was shot dead while his wife, Pimpa Noobankoh was
critically injured in Rusoh district of Narathiwat. On the same day, Sofi
Tohlooboh was killed and his brother Mahama Tohlooboh was injured in
indiscriminate firing by four motorcycle-borne gunmen at a roadside tea shop in
Rusoh district of Narathiwat province.
suspected Muslim insurgents reportedly shot dead a village volunteer guard and
his wife while they were riding in a motorcycle in Pattani province.
November 2006, a
school was torched in Bannang Sata district of Yala province. Thirty-five
schools in the district have been closed since then.
15 November 2006, Kulthida Injumpha, an assistant principal of Lamoh school in
Ruso district in Narathiwat province was gunned down by a suspected insurgent
while she was travelling home on her motorcycle from school.
unidentified assailants shot dead a local official and two Muslim villagers at
a tea shop in Narathiwat's Rangae district.
November 2006, two
persons were reportedly killed and 16 other wounded in a bomb attack at a
market in Sungai Kolok, a town on the border with Malaysia.
analysts have warned of deadlier attacks in the near future.
II. The course correction:
Justice, not apology
is not apology by politicians, especially of the military kind, which can help
to resolve the crisis in Southern
Thailand but justice.
Asian Centre for Human Rights urges the Thai government to examine the
a. Hold open dialogue with the
government of Thaksin Shinawatra refused to acknowledge alleged secret
negotiations with the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) and Barisan
Revolusi National (BRN).
the military ousted Thaksin Shinawatra, former Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad reportedly helped arrange at least two talks between the Thai
government and the insurgent leaders on Malaysia's island of Langkawi in October 2006. Obviously, the talks have
failed to make any breakthrough and the increase of violence in November 2006
is indicative of the same.
is a need for more transparency for holding talks with the insurgents, as
suggested by National Reconciliation Commission. This will dispel the
prevailing perceptions on the Thai authorities of not recognising the
grievances of the ethnic minority Malays.
b. Implement the
recommendations of the National Reconciliation Commission
March 2005, then
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra formed 48-member National Reconciliation
Commission (NRC) headed by former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun to deal with
the crisis in Southern
June 2006, the
National Reconciliation Commission submitted its final report titled,
"Overcoming Violence through the Power of Reconciliation". The NRC
concluded that the approaches of the government had not addressed the issue in
a realistic manner and therefore led to the deterioration of the situation.
others, the NRC proposed to set up a special "unarmed army" to engage
in dialogue with militants to end violence in the restive South and the passing
of the Peaceful Reconciliation in the Southern Border Provinces Act to build
lasting peace in the region. The act would establish three bodies: the Peaceful
Strategic Administrative Centre for Southern Border Provinces, the Southern
Border Provinces Area Development Council and the Fund for Healing and
military led administration has maintained its silence on these
c. Ensure justice
from regular gross human rights violations, the disappearance and subsequent
murder of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit on 12 April 2004, the
massacre inside the historic Krue Se Mosque on the outskirts of Pattani in
Narathiwat province in which 107 persons, mostly teenagers were killed on 28
April 2004, and massacre of at least 78 Muslim protesters in the custody of the
army at Tak Bai on 26 October 2004 standout as the worst cases of human rights
violations since the insurgency began in January 2004.
government of Thailand has failed to establish any accountability
for these human rights violations.
October 2006, A criminal court in Bangkok held defendant 1, Police Major Ngern
Tongsuk guilty and sentenced him to 3 years imprisonment for robbery but
acquitted Police Major Sinchai Nimbunkampong, Police Sergeant Major Chaiweng
Paduang, Police Sergeant Rundorn Sithiket and Police Lieutenant Colonel
Chadchai Liamsa-nguan in the murder of Somchai Neelaphaijit. As the body of
Somchai Neelaphaijit could not be found, they could not be charged with murder.
of establishing accountability for the killing of 78 persons at Tak Bai, as of
October 2006, 58 persons continued to be detained for participating in the
peaceful protests at Tak Bai!
III. Conclusion: Southern
Thailand requires monitoring
November 2006, Col.
Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a spokesman for the Council of National Security, stated
that Thailand's coup leaders have drafted a 35-page
document explaining their reasons for overthrowing former Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra. A white paper titled, "Facts about the Reform of Thai
Politics on 19 September 2006" which was leaked to the Thai media,
highlights Thaksin Shinawatra's alleged corruption and abuse of power.
of today, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has not been charged with
corruption. The euphoria over the military takeover has already been
it is easy to blame Thaksin Shinawatra for all the ills, it is the military
which has been dealing with the situation in Southern Thailand since insurgency
began in January 2004 and they were responsible for gross human rights
violations like the Krue Se or the Tak Bai massacres. If the military led
government continues with the practices, Southern Thailand may turn out to be the military's nemesis.
the armed opposition groups in Southern
Thailand have been
responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian laws especially
by targeting innocent civilians, teachers, Buddhist monks, educational
insitutions etc. No ideology or demands can justify such violence.
government has the duty and legitimate right to provide safety and security of
the citizens within the confines of the rule of law. However, the security
forces have often been found to be responsible for gross human rights
the situation in Southern
deteriorates, violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws
both by the security forces and armed opposition groups require monitoring and