The Thai government's extension of emergency decree powers in the
southern Thailand has led rights groups and academics to call for more
civilian control over the region. There is renewed attention on the
six-year-old insurgency following the recent bombings in Indonesia.
government says it hopes to end a Muslim insurgency in the southern
provinces within three years by improving laws and helping local
politicians to better respond to residents' needs.
in Thailand's three southern provinces is getting new attention after
last week's bombings of luxury hotels in the Indonesian capital of
Since early 2004, the insurgency has claimed over 3,500 lives. Shootings and bombings happen almost daily.
Cabinet has recently extended emergency decree powers governing the
provinces, leaving the region largely under military control.
Benjamin Zawacki, the Amnesty International Thailand representative,
says the government needs to go beyond a military solution. He says it
needs to focus on economic and educational development.
this government is doing its best but to ignore the proper
administration of justice in the south and allow impunity to continue
over the next six months or for that matter a longer period of time, is
not in the interests of the government," he said.
government has invested in some development projects, and it has worked
to improve its relationship with southern communities. But Pakorn
Preeyakorn, secretary-general of the Islamic Center of Thailand, says
despite those efforts, there has been no relief from the violence.
between most of the people seems to be better than before because we
can consider a number of those groups of villagers are coming up to
work with the government more than before. But in another way the
violence seems to be increasing in the past two to three months," he said.
Ethnically Malay Muslims in the south have
long accused the Thai government of bias. Rights groups including
Amnesty International also criticized over government's handling of
investigations into incidents involving Muslims and the military.
one group has been identified as responsible for the violence, and the
insurgents have never made clear demands. Their targets have included
teachers, civil servants, Muslims seen cooperating with the state,
Buddhist monks and the military.
In turn, the military has been accused of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.
The majority of Thailand's population is Buddhist, but ethnic Malay Muslims dominate in the south.
officials have recently said policies on the south will be adjusted
using input from Malaysia and Indonesia on addressing the concerns of
the mostly Muslim population.