Intolerance in the Deep South – Junta leader annoyed at Islamic dress row

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the Education Ministry Tuesday to settle a dispute over a ban on students wearing Islamic dress at a school in Pattani in the insurgency-plagued deep South.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, he said a deputy education minister was told to hold a meeting to determine whether the clothing was considered appropriate to wear in class.

He said this issue should not be presented to the government to resolve.

“The issue is about rules and if the rules are not followed, the problem will never end,” said Gen Prayut.

The dispute erupted at Anuban Pattani School in Muang district in May after some Muslim parents asked the school to allow their daughters to wear headscarves to school and let boys wear long trousers.

The request to wear Islamic dress goes against a school regulation that has been in place for over four decades. The school is located on the property of a Buddhist temple.

Some parents ignored this however and pressed on with their demands.

Their persistence led to the Education Ministry revising its rules in June by allowing students who attend schools situated on the grounds of a Buddhist temple to wear religious clothing as long as the school in question agrees.

The ministry clarified later that month that in the event of a dispute, the school would have the final say.

Continue reading: Bangkok Post

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Thai ranger shot dead near military outpost in conflict-torn Pattani

A volunteer ranger was shot dead in an ambush at a roadside pavilion opposite a military outpost in Panare district on Saturday morning.

The attack occurred shortly after Phumsak Yenthua, 21, crossed Highway 42 on the Pattani-Narathiwat route, opposite the ranger outpost where he worked, to the pavilion.

As he was about to turn off the lights in the pavilion, an unknown number of assailants waiting in ambush in a nearby forest fired shots at him, said Pol Lt Tunlakorn Suriywong, a duty officer at Panare police station, who was alerted at around 6.15am.

The sound of gunshots prompted other rangers to rush to the scene, where they found Phumsak seriously wounded. He was rushed to Panare Hospital but died shortly later.

Police found 25 spent M16 cartridges scattered at the scene of the attack and one bullet in the roadside forest, where the assailants had hidden, about 50 metres from the pavilion.

The body of the 21-year-old ranger was taken by helicopter to his home province of Phatthalung on Saturday afternoon.

Authorities were investigating whether the attack was related to the ongoing insurgency in the three southern border provinces.

Around the same time, a suspicious object was found in Thung Yang Daeng district of Pattani. Bomb disposal officers were called in to examine the object, which turned out to be a bomb. It was destroyed.

Source Bangkok Post: Ranger shot dead near military outpost in Pattani

Thai Junta Has Little to Show for Deep South Peace Efforts

As Thailand moves closer to a general election, expected sometime early next year, the current junta members who came to power through a coup four years ago are concerned that they would not have much to show for peace efforts in the Muslim-majority Deep South.

The Safety Zone pilot project is pretty much the only thing they have to talk about when it comes to their legacy for this restive region that has claimed about 7,000 lives since January 2004.

There are other projects, such as Bring People Home, a half-baked amnesty program that nobody, especially the militants, takes seriously. There is also the 50-million baht (U.S. $1.5 million) civil-military program that involves giving money to local civil-society organizations (CSO) believing this will undermine local support for the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the one long-standing separatist movement that controls virtually, if not all, of the militants on the ground.

But that, too, flopped, as most longstanding CSOs in the far South shunned the offer.

Already, a local political party, Pracha Chat, is in the making and its aim is to cash in on the anti-military sentiment among the general public.

It’s hard for the Thai leaders to talk about successes and continuity because Thailand’s counterpart, the MARA Patani, has suspended the dialogue process.

Source from BenarNews – Continue reading: Thailand: Junta Has Little to Show for Deep South Peace Efforts

Insurgents Use Landmines in Conflict-Torn ThaiSouth

Separatist insurgents have used landmines to maim rubber plantation workers and seriously disrupt the daily life of people in Thailand’s southern border provinces, Human Rights Watch said today. Ethnic Malay Muslim insurgents affiliated with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement should immediately cease using antipersonnel landmines and end attacks on civilians.

On July 2, 2018, Suthin Haewkhuntod, an ethnic Thai Buddhist latex tapper in Yala province’s Krong Penang district, lost his foot after he stepped on a landmine reportedly laid by insurgents on the rubber plantation where he worked. Two other ethnic Thai Buddhist latex tappers, Wipawan Plodkaenthong and Chutipon Namwong, were seriously wounded by landmines, in Yala’s Yaha district on June 28 and in Muang district on July 2.

“Laying landmines on rubber plantations and in paths used by villagers is cruel beyond words,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Insurgent groups should stop using these unlawful weapons and clear the landmines they have already laid.”

The separatist groups should observe the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which Thailand ratified in 1998. Antipersonnel mines are prohibited because they cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants, and because they kill and maim people long after they are laid.

Continue reading: HRW

Bombs recovered in ThaiSouth made in Malaysia?

A police officer in southern Thailand has claimed improvised explosive devices seized there were made in Malaysia.

Security forces in the restive province have been instructed to intensify investigations over the seizure of 41 home-made bombs from a pickup truck in Narathiwat yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan wants the authorities to identify the culprits behind the bombs.

“The authorities need to find out who was responsible for bringing the bombs.

“They need to investigate more,” he told reporters today, adding that officers were also instructed to hunt and arrest a suspect who evaded arrest by fleeing into some jungle.

His statement came as Thai security forces in the southern provinces stepped up surveillance following the seizure of the bombs.

Narathiwat police chief Maj Gen Manas Sikamat was quoted as telling the local media today that the bombs were made in neighbouring Malaysia and were intended to harm security officers.

He, however, did not provide any evidence to back his claim about the origin of the bombs.

An unidentified Thai officer quoted by the local media claimed the PVC pipes used for the bombs were not available in Thailand.

Continue reading: FMT

Islamic Leader’s Killing Raises Safety Issues in ThaiSouth Peace Talks

For the past 13 years, insurgents in Thailand’s Deep South have launched major attacks during Ramadan. They’ve done this to remind security forces of an alleged crime that occurred when the Islamic holy month, which follows a lunar cycle, fell in October 2004: the Tak Bai massacre.

Army and police units allegedly opened fire on unarmed Patani Malay demonstrators in the Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province, killing seven. Another 78 protesters died from suffocation after they were stacked one on top another in military transport trucks.

This year Ramadan-time attacks started a little early, on May 20, when multiple ATMs were bombed simultaneously about half an hour after Muslims broke fast and the streets were empty.

The attacks were carried out in at least 14 locations in four southern provinces, Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, and Songkhla. Most of the blasts took place meters from military checkpoints, thus adding to the humiliation of the troops.

Sending a message

Violence in Thailand’s Malay-speaking and predominantly Muslim Deep South is political in nature. It’s a form of communicative action.

In many places around the world, video cameras and social media are often used to send out a message behind an attack. Often, the intended audience are policymakers and the general public, who may be halfway around the world.

On the other hand, the audience for the insurgency in Thailand’s Deep South is still pretty much confined to the security forces and the agency bosses. It’s a form of deadly messaging between two warring sides.

What goes into public space, including social media, doesn’t always reflect the reality on the ground.

Continue reading: BenarNews

Four Villagers Murdered in Conflict-Torn ThaiSouth

Four villagers were shot dead in the country’s south in another case of violence in the insurgency-wracked region, police said.

Police Maj. Gen. Manas Siksamat, police chief of Narathiwat province, said the killings happened Thursday while the victims were gold panning at a river running through a rubber plantation.

He said the victims, all male, were discovered Thursday night and their bodies were riddled with bullet wounds.

Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani have been plagued by a Muslim separatist insurgency that has claimed the lives of more than 6,500 people since the violence escalated in 2004.

Continue reading: Khaosod English