News / Asia

Thai Junta Alters Security Plan to Quell Southern Insurgency

FILE - Soldiers patrol around the Royal Thai Army Headquarters as members of the Radio and Satellite Broadcasters gather in Bangkok, June 18, 2014.
FILE - Soldiers patrol around the Royal Thai Army Headquarters as members of the Radio and Satellite Broadcasters gather in Bangkok, June 18, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand's military junta is putting new security measures in place in a bid to calm the country's restive southern region, where fighting with Muslim separatists has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the past decade.  The military leaders are also hoping to restart peace talks with insurgents.

A new command structure for Thailand's southern border provinces will have junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha replace civilian authorities as the army takes a lead role in efforts to halt rising violence in the south.

Civilian organizations will come under the military command.

The junta, which is known as the National Council for Peace and Order, took power a month ago and says it hopes to restart stalled peace talks.  Reports say the military is looking to the Malaysian Government to act as a facilitator to restart the talks.

Better control

Chulalongkorn University political scientist Panitan Wattanayagorn was an advisor to past Thai Governments on security issues in the southern provinces.  He says the military has unified control to overcome policy shortcomings under past civilian governments.   

"That is my observation -  a more unified structure you also shorten command, control.  That suggests [they] may want to do something more in the south soon.  But success could depend firstly at the strategic level or policy level.  I think with that you need unity at the top.  We are hoping that a new initiative, particularly in terms of governance, in terms of politics will come out and that will be positive on the ground," he said.

Panitan said policy had been weakened under past civilian governments due to conflict between the civilian and military operations.
The decade long insurgency has claimed the lives of more than 5,800 people and wounded more than 10,000.  The most frequent targets of insurgent attacks are ethnic Thai Buddhists and ethnic Malay Muslims in the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.

Failed attempts to quell the insurgency have included crackdowns, efforts to win over local communities and heavy spending by the central government to spur local development.  Brutal attacks on teachers and state officials by insurgents have led to accusations of extra judicial killings by authorities, perpetuating a cycle of violence.

Panitan says the new structure may be more administratively efficient, but local residents may fear the diminished role of civilian authorities in policy making.

"The military's heavy influence may have raised some concerns on the ground, particularly in terms of a new round of negotiation or a new negotiation on the master plan for the governance or even on the day-to-day operations," he said.

Human rights concerns

Rights advocates have also raised concerns over the military seeking to restart direct negotiations with the insurgents.  Peace talks under the former civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, collapsed last year and there was no fresh date set for them to recommence.

Rights advocate Angkhana Neelapaijit, the wife of missing Muslim lawyer, Somchai Neelapaijit, says a neutral body is needed to lead talks, rather than the military.

"If the military want to earn the peace process, how can they be trusted by another group or armed groups?  Because I think we need neutral people to talk to both sides, not to use violence and go to the [negotiating] table and then discuss what is wrong and what happened," she said.

Analysts expect the military will work quickly on new initiatives aimed at producing results, including legal moves to encourage insurgents to give up arms, while ruling out insurgent calls for greater regional autonomy.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid