News / Asia

    Southern Thailand Violence Raises Fears of Insurgent Escalation

    FILE - Military personnel stand next to a damaged military vehicle where soldiers were attacked by suspected Muslim militants at Muang district in the southern province of Yala, Thailand, Sept. 4, 2015.
    FILE - Military personnel stand next to a damaged military vehicle where soldiers were attacked by suspected Muslim militants at Muang district in the southern province of Yala, Thailand, Sept. 4, 2015.
    Ron Corben

    Attacks across Thailand’s southern border provinces have raised fears of an escalation in insurgent violence, even as the Thai government has stepped up security operations and reports progress in its efforts to hold peace talks.  Human-rights advocates are calling for an investigation into claims of torture against detainees, including a death in custody.

    Outbreak of violence

    The outbreak of violence in Thailand’s southern provinces of Yala and Pattani on Friday included the roadside bombing of a military patrol providing security for local school teachers, drive-by shootings and arson attacks.

    The insurgency in the largely Muslim-populated region, in its 12th year, has claimed over 6,200 lives, defying official efforts to end the bloodshed.

    Panitan Wattanayagorn, a security adviser to the Thai defense minister, says the latest insurgent attacks are in response to security sweeps, including a raid Wednesday in Pattani Province that led to the seizure of a large quantity of bomb-making materials.

    “In the past few weeks, security units have been able to conduct sweeping operations pushing some of the key [insurgent] members to leave the cities, and some of them have been arrested. Intelligence [gathering] by security units are more successful," he said. "This is also indicating that the cooperation between different security units and the people in the area is much stronger.”

    Decline in violent incidents

    Panitan says there has been a reduction in violent incidents, and that a further decline in violence may lead to an easing of military control over the local administration. The regions remain under martial law.

    “If the reduction continues further this year we may see an ending to certain types of violence, and maybe the areas could be returned to normalcy — controlled, operated or managed by the local people. This is the hope for the year. [But it] has to be carefully managed until we are quite certain that things are stable,” he said.

    Rights groups charge the Thai government is failing to adequately address the issues of human rights abuses and ill-treatment of detainees.

    A report this week by the Cross Cultural Foundation, a local rights group, charged that more than 50 detainees have been victims of abuse - including one who died in December.

    Concerns about human rights

    Pornpen Khongkachontiel, the foundation’s director, says rights groups face greater restricted access to investigate the charges.

    “In the past, some mechanisms that can reduce the risk of detainees being tortured, for the monitoring by the National Human Rights Commission, the civil society and the families play a big role in monitoring the detention – including the military. But in the past year all these mechanisms, oversight mechanism, don’t work,” she said.

    Thai authorities have dismissed the claims, saying the rights situation in the southern border provinces has improved.

    But the foundation is calling for a full investigation into the allegations, saying that while just a few officials stand accused of ill treatment, the charges are creating fear and mistrust across the local communities.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora