Thailands deputy national police chief Pol Gen Adul Sangsingkaew confirmed that court-approved arrest warrants have been issued against two suspects in the coordinated bombings in Narathiwats Sungai Kolok district last Friday. Friday nights deadly coordinated bombings killed five people, including three Malaysian tourists, and wounded more than a hundred others.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra about the continuing violence in the southern border region, Gen Adul disclosed that there was substantial evidence against the two.At least five people are believed to have been involved in the deadly bomb attacks. Investigation is under way to track them.The deputy police chief said the prime minister instructed security personnel in the region to adjust their operations to protect the lives of the people with coordination among agencies concerned.
Gen Adul said the latest violence was part of an attempt to keep violence in the public eye, and to follow the pattern of violent acts by the insurgents.He also brushed aside suggestions that the blasts were aimed at challenging the new Pheu Thai-led government.
Separatists have been mounting attacks in this jungle-covered region, near the Malaysian border, since 2004, killing more than 4,700 people. During the past six months, attacks have been “better planned and targeted, more sophisticated, and professional than earlier in the conflict,” says a Thailand-based analyst.
But now insurgents are increasingly using IEDs, and have stepped up the type of violence. Buddhist monks are beheaded. Schools, the symbols of the Buddhist Thai state, are burned down. Drive-by shootings leave teachers and rubber tappers dead. Car bombs kill soldiers and bystanders.
Violence in Thailand’s southern, mainly Malay Muslim provinces has been steadily escalating since early 2004, exacerbated by the disastrously heavy-handed policies of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. There is widespread concern in the region that left unchecked, the unrest could turn into a mass-based insurgency, or even a regional jihad, although to date there is no evidence of external involvement in the bombings and killings that have become almost a daily occurrence.
The rise of more puritanical strains of Islam in southern Thailand is often cited as contributing to the violence, particularly given Muslim anger at the deployment of Thai troops in Iraq. But while Islamic consciousness and a sense of persecution and solidarity with fellow Muslims has grown over the last two decades, it would be a mistake to view the conflict as simply another manifestation of Islamic terrorism. The violence is driven by local issues.
There is no question that the Muslim south is one of the poorest parts of Thailand, but the grievances are political, and even well thought-out development policies will not deal with the unrest effectively unless those grievances are addressed. However, almost every step the government has taken has exacerbated the problem.
The origins of the current violence lie in historical grievances stemming from discrimination against the ethnic Malay Muslim population and attempts at forced assimilation by successive ethnic Thai Buddhist governments in Bangkok for almost a century.
Armed separatist groups have been active there since the late 1960s, with particularly virulent violence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The largest and most effective group of several operating then was PULO (Patani United Liberation Organisation), which called for an independent Islamic state but whose thrust was more ethno-nationalist than Islamist.
Security Personnel in the Deep South Provided with Human Rights Education
Human rights education has been provided for army and police personnel operating in the southern border provinces.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Thai Army jointly organized a human rights seminar to raise awareness of this issue among law enforcement officers there.
The seminar, the seventh of its kind, took place on 25-26 August 2011, when Mr. Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Deputy Director-General, Department of International Organizations, Mr. Nadhavathna Krishnamra, Director of the Social Division and an official, visited Pattani and Yala provinces.
The group exchanged information with security personnel regarding the treatment of suspects and detainees and the use of forensic science in the investigation of security-related incidents. It was found that security officers were well aware of these basic rights and fundamental freedoms and reaffirmed their commitment to continue to adhere to the principle of human rights in accordance with international standards.
The security personnel participating in the human rights seminar were provided with basic knowledge of human rights, particularly the rights of the child and on the country’s obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture. They also learned about Thailand’s role in the advancement of human rights at the international level. Particular focus was given to Thailand’s first country report to be considered at the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) on 5 October 2011. In this regard, it is incumbent on all Thai authorities to contribute to the strict adherence to Thailand’s international human rights obligations.
The seminar has been conducted periodically to provide human rights education for security personnel in the southern border provinces and to ensure that those officials strictly adhere to the country’s international human rights obligations while conducting security operations. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the human rights seminar has proven to be very useful for security personnel, as they can gain awareness of the “dos” and “don’ts” regarding human rights when they are on duty.
Human rights education and awareness-raising for law enforcement officers is regarded as a priority in Thailand’s human rights policy. It is part of the attempt to implement the Thai government’s policy on the promotion and protection of human rights in conformity with Thailand’s national laws and international obligations.