Troubles in the South – February-April 2006

Troubles in the South index page

Stop making preposterous accusations, Thai newspapers told - Bernama, April 29, 2006
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak asked Thai newspapers to stop making preposterous accusations in their reports, saying there is a training camp in Malaysia to train Thai separatists...

Detention camps reportedly feed insurgency - The Irrawaddy, April 27, 2006
[The international press is slowing starting to report on the alleged disappearances carried out by authorities in the South. Separatists blame the government for many of the daily killings in the South (but this is usually not explained in the local press). More on leaflets left in the South]
...Every day, a group of anxious parents gathers outside the whitewashed walls of the Sabri, who was one of a group of 19 Malay-Muslim men kept in captivity with no access to legal help, denied the charges when he spoke to IPS soon after his release. "I don't know why I was arrested," he said. "One of my friends was also arrested and freed later."
His three weeks of incarceration included being kept in solitary confinement in a room where the lights were never turned off. There were long stretches of interrogation by officers in plain clothes.
"They questioned me from nine till 12 in the morning and then for five hours in the afternoon," said Sabri. "There was no physical abuse but their words were strong. They kept saying I was involved in a plan to murder a policeman."
...A Thai military intelligence officer, who spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity, said there were about 20 such camps in the south, in Bangkok and in the central province of Lop Buri. "We arrest them to change their minds," he said. "Some are charged if they are linked to attacks and some are sent home."...

Blacklist should be reivewed : SBPPBC - The Nation, April 26, 2006
The Southern Border Provinces Peace Building Command (SBPPBC) on Wednesday demanded the concerned intelligence agencies review the "blacklist" of suspected militants after a rare public comment by the army chief over its accuracy....
Reports about the lists surfaced in mid2004 with each security agency, including the military and police, believed to have prepared its own version. The people on these lists were said to be targets of manhunts or summary executions by rogue officials...

Rottweilers make popular pets in deep south - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, April 25, 2006
Many villagers in three southern provinces have bought rottweilers as guard dogs. The owner of a dog farm in Bangkok recently said that about 30 dogs were being ordered by southerners each month. Although rottweilers are renown for their fierce temperament and difficulty in handling, the number of dogs purchased is still on the increase. Nophadol Tantiyawut - the Chairman of the Rottweiler Club of Thailand - said that the residents of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat Provinces had endured many threats to their personal security in recent years. This trend had resulted in many villagers buying guard dogs for their homes. Some orders were made by phone, but other customers preferred to come to his Bangkok farm to purchase the dogs.
Rottweilers of 2-3 months old are just the right age to be trained for guard duties. The cost of each dog ranges between 7,000 and 10,000 baht. Rottweilers are also being bought from Malaysian breeders. Villagers report feeling far more secure with big guard dogs around their properties. Indonesian villagers, in conflict zones, have also been known to keep rottweilers.
Montree Kaewnaseng, a rottweiler breeder from Surat Thani Province, has also reported selling large numbers of his dogs to villagers in the deep south during recent years. Rottweilers are naturally aggressive dogs, that will always bark at strangers. The spacious rubber gardens owned by many southerners are especially suitable for a breed of dog that requires a great deal of exercise.
Some dogs are being delivered to their new owners by air. This delivery method means that the dogs are first carried from Surat Thani to Bangkok, and then south again to Songkhla Province [Had-Yai International Airport]. There are no direct flights between Surat Thani and Songkhla. This [double-leg] means that the transport costs of the dogs can exceed 1,000 baht, which probably explains why some clients prefer to collect their dogs in person from the Surat Thani farm.

'Southern Thailand is new terror ground' - The Philippine Star, April 23, 2006
..."Our prediction is Thailand will become like Mindanao in the next five years unless the Thai government takes decisive steps to control and contain the local insurgency," Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, told an international counterterrorism conference in Cebu City.
A Thai government official disagreed with the assessment, however, saying that most Thai Muslim insurgents are not radicals and that the situation "cannot be compared anywhere..."


Thai police patrol Thai Muslim town of Ruso - AlertNet, April 22, 2006
Thai police patrol the Thai Muslim town of Ruso, 1,200km (745 miles) south of Bangkok April 22, 2006, a day ahead of the by-elections...

What does the National Reconciliation Committee (NRC) report on violence in the deep south say?- April 14, 2006
The details have seemed to been missed by the English-language press, but 2Bangkok has the story...

Violence in deep south should not be disregarded - translated and summarized from Krungthep Thurakit, April 4, 2006
...Recently, the National Reconciliation Committee (NRC) has reported that structural conflicts are a vital ingredient in the present turmoil of the three southernmost provinces [Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat]. Sources of discord include economic injustice, skewed resource allotment, educational discrimination, and inequality in the judicial process. All of these disparities fall into stark relief when compared with the situation in other parts of the country. This comparison creates a perspective of two different "countries" within Thailand's social and physical boundaries.
The NRC study concluded that ethnic and religious dissimilarities are not the real causes of this protracted conflict. However, the study also commented that these same ethnic and religious differences have often been used to discriminate against locals caught up in the army's violent quelling of the insurgency. The study added that this discriminatory action is conducted with the tacit approval of certain powerful sectors of our society. This appears to explain why Thailand's bourgeoisie--not living in the conflict zone itself--seems so apathetic about the ongoing unrest while at the same time being so vehemently outraged by the tax-free takeover of Shin Corp. Hundreds of thousands of people pay far more attention to the tax evasion of the Shin Corp takeover than to the massacre at Krue Se Mosque or the brutal suppression of the Takbai protest.
Elsewhere in the NRC study, it is stated that over an 11-year period (1993 to 2005) there were 748 violent incidents in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat Provinces (with the occasional inclusion of Songkhla and Satun Provinces). This averaged out at 68 incidents per year. During 2004 and 2005, there was a shocking escalation of the violence. There were 1,843 incidents in 2004, and 1,703 in 2005, making a total of 3,546 violent incidents: a statistic 374% larger than that of the entire preceding 11-year period.
The NRC report also describes many instances of injustice that have occurred to the people of the three southernmost provinces. One such case was the arrest of Dr. Waemahadi Waedaoh and his associates for their alleged membership of Jemaah Islamiyah. There have also been illegal juvenile arrests and the unlawful interrogation (torture) of detained suspects to ensure their confession within the legal detention period. Other instances of injustice include the 130 deaths arising from the Takbai protest and the disappearance of lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit.
The NRC has also collected data on economic problems in the southern border provinces. This data shows that the region has displayed very limited economic growth in comparison to other regions of Thailand. Between 1998 and 2003, the agricultural sector expanded 5.5 % yearly. The fishing sector, an important mainstay of the three provinces, grew at only 0.3 % per year. Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat are the poorest provinces in the South, a region that covers 47.6% of Thailand's entire landmass. Consequently, there is great unemployment in the three provinces.
The NRC's study indicates that the southern border problem has not arisen from the agitation of malicious insurgents alone. Its comments that the authorities need to realize their own mistakes and admit their incomplete knowledge of the region's structural problems in its economy, educational system, resource accessibility and local culture.
According to the Issara News Center (an offshoot of the Journalists' Association of Thailand), the crisis in the deep south was exacerbated by the royal enactment of the "Emergency Administration Decree" on July 16, 2005 (2548 Buddhist Era). The decree has acted as a constant pitfall to the authorities as the insurgency has expanded its circle of victims from government officials to the wider public--male and female, young and old, Buddhist and Muslim.
The Emergency Decree provided almost unlimited powers for government officials to carry out searches, inquires, and even arrests without the normal need for warrants. This has created a widespread mutual distrust amongst villagers. According to a survey conducted soon after the enactment, 55.7% of local residents [in the deep south] believed that the security of their lives and property had greatly deteriorated as a result of the decree.
A concrete example of this communal distrust was the assassination of an Imam in Narathiwat Province's Lahaan Village (Paluroo Commune, Sungai Padi District). The Imam's murder created a torrent of trepidation amongst the villagers. This fear resulted in the villagers barring the army from carrying out search operations in their village. This event was followed by the exodus of 131 scared villagers to a neighboring area of Malaysia's Kelantan State. It also eventually led to the "Tanyong Limo Crisis" which resulted in the deaths of three villagers and two marines.
A problem has also arisen from the government's policy of ordering local officials--such as Kamnan and Puyaiban [respectively, commune and village headmen]--to create black lists of local people who have fallen under the shadow of suspicion. These lists were created with the intention of separating the insurgents from villagers. Unfortunately, this policy has often been carried out indiscriminately. Many locals have been coerced into surrender and arrest on the grounds of flimsy allegations. This has helped to tilt the villagers, away from an already rampant distrust, towards a seemingly irrevocable animosity to authority...


(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)

Almost like being there: Recording votes in the deep south - April 2, 2006
Dr. Has reports: The atmosphere of counting votes in the area zone 2 of Yala province--the one place that got over 20% of votes.
More on Troubles in the South


(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)

900 people arrested under the Emergency Decree? - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, March 28, 2006
...Recently, an informed source from the Young Muslim Association of Thailand disclosed that 19 administrative teachers at Thammawittaya Moolaniti School in Yala Province have been arrested, despite their efforts to demonstrate their sincerity to the authorities. The police arrests took place under the powers of the royally enacted Emergency Decree, which is active in some areas of the south. The association also stated that there are presently more than 900 people under arrest by the police in the deep south, with government officials trying to conceal this fact from the mass media.

More on the leaflets - March 21, 2006
Many readers asked for more details on the leaflets we featured on Saturday. These leaflets (below) were left at the site where teachers from Luemu were shot on February 3. Kasang is the name of village in Bannangstar district where there is a religious school.
While officially all the killings in the south are attributed to "bandits," the "You killed my innocent ustaz" phrase means the separatists are accusing the government of being behind the killing of some religious teachers.

Earlier: Messages from the deep south - March 18, 2006
Two flyers left by separatists in Yala. These were left to explain killings by separatists.

Right: You killed an innocent ustaz at Kasang... I killed a dog. [ustaz is the title for a religious teacher]

Left: You killed my innocent ustaz. I killed your innocent teacher.

Pattani entry on Wikipedia - Wikipedia, March 2, 2006
...According to local sources, 4,000 Malay men were enslaved and made to work on Bangkok's system of khlongs (canals). To further humiliate the Pattanese, the symbol of Pattani's military strength – the Seri Patani and Seri Negara cannons, were brought to Bangkok and it is today displayed in front of the Ministry of Defense...

'Thailand could learn from Malaysia's harmony' - Asia News Network, February 25, 2006
Sitting in the lobby of a Chinese-owned hotel in the heart of this backwater state capital controlled by a conservative Islamist party for most of two decades, recently elected Kelantan assembly member Hanifi Mamat predicted more cross-border trade with Thailand's restive South if and when Umno (the United Malays National Organisation) takes over...

Conference concludes Thaksin contributes to southern unrest - translated and summarized from Phujatkan, February 22, 2006
A seminar was recently convened to discuss the insurgency in the deep south. One conclusion reached by academics and senators at the conference was that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's policies had contributed to the violence in the three southernmost provinces (Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat). The Premier has been quoted as saying that he would favor the arrest of at least ten insurgents each month. He has also advocated the use of violent methods to control the insurgency. Many conference-goers concluded that the implementation of the Emergency Decree has given certain authorities even greater opportunities to abuse state powers. They suggested that the Prime Minister should apologize to innocent victims of these abuses, as his policies were clearly not working.

Thais 'ill-informed about the South' - IHT, February 23, 2006
As the National Reconciliation Committee (NRC)'s one-year mandate draws to a close, Chairman Anand Panyarachun said this week that the majority of Thais are still ignorant about the causes of the violence in the southern border provinces...
Confessions of 'brainwashed' southern bombers - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 15, 2006
Three teenagers gave interviews to the press last week at a conference organized by the security forces. The three told reporters how they had become embroiled in the insurgency.
"If I could turn back time, I would not take an oath of allegiance to the separatists again," said Asawan Awaegaji (26). Asawan became part of a separatist group three years ago, when he was studying at a vocational school in Narathiwat. He said that an elderly man had persuaded him to attend a meeting of one of the factions pressing for the independence of Patani. His attendance at one such evening meeting had persuaded him to leave school and become an active member of the movement. He was assigned to the task of making the bombs planted in Narathiwat Province.
"I learned how it took less than ninety minutes to make a bomb. I was so scared. However, I knew I wouldn't be able to escape, as I had sworn an oath to join the group."
Asawan said that orders for his bombing missions arrived by letters or by word of mouth from other group members. Bomb materials would then be delivered to a location near the intended bomb site.
Asawan was behind the bombing at the Telephone Exchange in Narathiwat. He was supposed to have been paid a thousand baht for each bomb, but sometimes he made bombs without being paid. These payments were later cut to 500 baht.
Asawan said that he had collaborated with two other members to build over a hundred bombs. He was arrested on November 13, 2005. His partners-in-crime were arrested at a later date.
One of Asawan's two colleagues said that he had also been persuaded to join meetings at which the attendees were brainwashed. At the time, he had no regrets when he heard that his first bomb had killed some government officials. His motivation had been revenge on such officials, who frequently mistreated local villagers. He began to realize that he had been deceived after the bombs' victims began to include women and children. He was glad when he was arrested, as it had given him a chance to pursue a different path in life.


(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)

Almost like being there: The banality of violence - February, 2006
Dr. Has reports: This is an event that people have gotten used to seeing. Above: Police are interviewing a witness who took a man who had been shot to the hospital. Below: The aftermath of a violent event in Yala on February 2--a bomb at Thara Restaurant in the center of Yala province.



(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)

32 youths to be sent to re-education camps - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 13, 2006
The chairman of the teachers association in the three southern border provinces, Wichan Atikapan, said PM Thaksin Shinawatra's visit to the south could boost the morale of teachers in the short term.
Wichan said the fear in the teachers would return after PM Thaksin returned to Bangkok as the situation continued to be unstable. Teachers in remote areas were the most frightened, he said.
Wichan said 35 teachers held hostage at Ban Joh Koh School in Narathiwat last week for the release of the local imam really terrified teachers and he asked the government officials to prevent such incidents in future.
Sanya Suwanapoh, chairman of the teachers association in Yala, said PM Thaksin had promised to provide extra protection to teachers in the south. He said Thaksin's promise helped boost the morale of the teachers as they had long been in fear.
In Narathiwat, 32 misguided youths between the ages of 21 and 30 surrendered. 23 were from Sungai Kolok district and nine were from Sungai Padi district.
Narathiwat governor Pracha Terat said he was glad that the parents had complied with the government's policy and encouraged their children to participate in the re-education camp. This helped bring peace to the southern border provinces, he said.
Governor Pracha said the insurgent leaders still recruited young men to carry out violent incidents. They were residing in the districts of Joh I Rong, Sungai Padi, Rangae and Bajoh, he advised.
The government officials are following these insurgents closely and will arrest some of them very shortly, he said.
It was reported that Sidi Kaje (23) was shot dead while having dinner with his wife at home in Mayor district, Pattani. His wife, Geeroh Doloh (22), said the gunman entered the house and fired twice into the neck and chest of her husband.
Police suspect the shooting might involve personal conflicts, but did not rule out the possibility of insurgent involvement.

Bush recalls the capture of Hambali in Thailand - Scoop.co.nz, by Richard S. Ehrlich, February 13, 2006
...Immediately after capturing Hambali in room 601 of the Boonyarak Apartment block in Ayutthaya, he disappeared under U.S. custody and has not been publicly seen since -- amid speculation he was being tortured via a "rendition" to Jordan, or caged for brutal interrogation by Americans in Guantanamo Bay, or on the U.S.-occupied Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, or in Bagram, Afghanistan. ..."Hambali planned to carry out bombings in Thailand against the US and British embassies, nightclubs in Phuket and Pattaya, and the Israeli check-in counter at Bangkok's Don Muang airport," London's Sunday Times reported in October 2003, citing Hambali's purported "interrogation transcript".
"Hambali and two Al Qaeda assistants also considered attacking an Israeli restaurant with a Star of David above it, in the [Bangkok] backpacker area of Khao San Road," the British report said.
The popular restaurant, in a street perpetually jammed with thousands of tourists and Thais, has since removed its large six-pointed advertisement.


(Photo: Dr. Has for 2Bangkok.com)

Almost like being there: Kid's party - February, 2006
Dr. Has reports: Amusement in the bad situation: Although the situation in the south continues, schools try to organize a party for children. This is the "Three in One Party" that combines three days, New Years, Children's day and Harirayorordilatha at Ban Talohhalor school, Raman, Yala.

Southern teachers request 'Luang Poh Tuad' amulets and holy water at Wat Chang Hai - translated and summarized from Komchadleuk, February 11, 2006
A group of southern teachers recently traveled to Wat Chang Hai Rat Buranaram--a Buddhist temple in Pattani Province--to request amulets of the revered (long-deceased) monk Luang Poh Tuad. They also requested holy water to ensure future prosperity. Pra Mahacharutch Udjaro, the temple's assistant abbot, disclosed that the southern insurgency had left many teachers fearful of falling victim to violence. These fears have recently led many teachers to force the closure of their schools. During these school closures, many teachers have decided to visit the temple. The teachers believe that revered Buddhist objects will help them to survive the current danger. Pra Mahacharutch also said that Wat Chang Hai is extremely pleased to be able to help these teachers. He commented that many teachers had fallen victim to terrorism over the last two years and they had not been provided with sufficient security at work.
The temple has also produced 5,000 prayer books with which government officials and ordinary people can seek peace of mind. However, it appears that the prayer books have not been produced in sufficient numbers. The temple is preparing to produce more books, but still lacks the necessary funds to do so.
The Governor of Pattani Province has also made Luang Poh Tuad amulets available to people who wish to invoke their own safety through the worship of Buddhist images.

More on Troubles in the South


(Photo: GWR)

Note: Above is a photo of a Luang Poh Tuad amulet. The amulets are hard to come by as they are in very heavy demand. Right is a modern portrait of Luang Poh Tuad, who died over 200 years ago. Luang Poh was said to be able to perform the miracle of walking on water among other things. Wat Chang Hai is one of the most hallowed and popular temples in the south. It also has its own railway station.

(Photo: GWR)

School besieged - Teachers taken hostage to gain release of arrested Toh Imam - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 10, 2006
In Narathiwat Province yesterday, a group of teachers' bodyguards were attacked while they were on patrol. One of the patrol group was injured during the ten-minute gun battle. A bomb also damaged the patrol group's pick-up truck. A five-kilogram bomb was also found at the scene.
In Narathiwat's Cho Ai Rong District, more than 300 security personnel raided the house of Toh Imam Abdulpadi Aree. A gallon of fuel was found during the raid. Abdulpadi was taken into custody and interrogated. At this point, over 300 people rallied in front of Ban Joh Kroh School. The protesters took 32 teachers hostage and demanded that the police release Abdulpadi. Around 500 security personnel were sent to the school. Negotiations with the protestors lasted for two hours. The police finally released Abdulpadi.

Father awaits recovery of son's body - translated and summarized from Komchadluek, February 8, 2006
"My wife and I have never asked for any compensation for our missing son. We know that won't bring our son back. I'm just trying to be strong. What I really want is to recover his body". These are the recent plaintive words of Senior Sergeant Major Narong Wisetsuwannapum (57), a police officer in Pattani Province. His only son, Ekasak (27), was gunned down and decapitated on July 26, 2005.
Ekasak's decapitated head was found in a plastic bag in front of a roadside building in Tambon Rahan [Rahan Commune] in Pattani's Saiburi District. There were many wounds on the head. Six months have passed and Ekasak's body has not yet been recovered.
Senior Sgt. Major Narong said his son had left home one day before the incident. This was entirely normal, as Ekasak liked to stay overnight with his many friends. So Narong was not worried when his son did not return home.
"On July 26, a police officer asked me to identify my son's remains. When I saw my son's head, I suddenly felt faint, but tried to act normally. I didn't want to show weakness even though I knew I had lost my son."
"My wife was so sad and fainted when she heard the terrible news. We tried to console each other, but my wife became very depressed. I kept telling her that we had lost our son and that it was pointless to dwell too much on our grief so we had to be strong. My wife has gradually accepted this truth."
"My wife makes merit for our son every Buddhist holy day. We place offerings in front of his picture which is surrounded by pictures of his relatives. Every time we perform these offerings, we think of him. Everything in our house recalls his memory. We had only one child. Without him, we have no one."
Senior Sgt. Major Narong talked about his love for his only son, saying he had always wished Ekasak well. He had sent his son to study in Bangkok. He also wanted Ekasak to work away from home as he knew the southern provinces were not a safe place to live. Recent news of local violence only increased the family's sense of insecurity.
"But he wanted to come back home. He didn't want to live in Bangkok, because he wanted to be with his friends here. He was born in Saiburi, and grew up here too. He had a lot of friends and many were Muslims. I didn't get to know all of his friends. It's normal for a teenager to have many friends. The only thing I ever asked him to do was to keep away from violence and drugs. I told him that I was a police officer and that I didn't like that kind of stuff."
Senior Sgt. Major Narong also talked about his son's behavior just before his murder. His son had asked for permission to convert to Islam. Narong could not agree to this and neither could his wife and relatives. However, Ekasak did not get angry about their refusal.
"I thought my son's request was a bit strange at the time. I was afraid that he might be led astray. I'm a police officer, and I know there are insurgents out there pretending to be normal teenagers. I feared that my son might befriend these people. It's too late, now that I've lost him."
"The murderer has yet to be caught. Suspects have been interrogated, but there is no evidence. I try not to feel indignant about this although the murderer remains unpunished. I want to leave this case to the judicial system and not concern myself too much about when the case will end. My son's dead and cannot be brought back to life."
"What I want most is to recover Ekasak's body, as we have still only found his decapitated head. No one has any idea where his body might lie. At his funeral, we arranged his clothing to represent his missing body. The funeral ceremony has long since passed, but I still want his body back so that his body and soul will be intact for his next reincarnation."
Senior Sgt-Major Narong has only a few years left in the police force and will shortly retire. In the meantime, both he and his wife have lost the will to work. They once devoted their life's work to their only son's benefit. Now that their son has departed, they have lost their sole motivation. Now, they are just working to survive.
"I have just submitted a request to move to Sating Phra District in Songkhla Province. I want to spend the rest of my life with my wife in a safe place. We might look after some cousins there. We have got to be very careful living in Saiburi. A lot of people here know who we are, but we don't know them at all and so we don't feel secure. I don't know what might happen in the future. I don't want anything bad to happen to us."
"The Provincial Authority has allocated us some monetary compensation. I don't really care if I get the money or not as it can never replace our son. However, we do wish to thank the authority for its help."
This really is a huge loss for the Wisetsuwannapum family. The father and mother have been waiting with some hope over the past six months for the recovery of their son's body.

The accused admits plan to kill three teachers in Yala - summarized and translated from Matichon, February 2, 2006
Twelve insurgents were arrested during a raid on January 31. Among them was the leader of the group, Isma-ae Sama. He confessed that he was planning to shoot local teachers in Yala Province and that authorities were to blame for the killing of an ustaz [religious teacher] and the arrest of an ustaz from Tadika School on January 29. Local security news agencies reported that the separatists will kill 15 local innocent people. It is said that two million baht in cash will be given for information which leads to the arrest of Isma-ae Rayalong, known as Ustaz Soh.
On February 1, Police Captain Krissada Wattadham brought authorities to inspect four torched houses in Narathiwat Province's Cho Ai Rong sub-district. Materials suspected to have been used in the arson were similar to those used in arson attacks on 36 schools in 1993.
Troubles in the South index page
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