News / Asia

Thailand Announces Compensation Plan for Southern Violence

A Thai soldier looks on as a Muslim woman crosses the street in Bacho, a city in southern Thailand, where a violent insurgency in the Muslim-dominated region has been simmering since 2004. (File)
A Thai soldier looks on as a Muslim woman crosses the street in Bacho, a city in southern Thailand, where a violent insurgency in the Muslim-dominated region has been simmering since 2004. (File)

Thailand has announced a plan to financially compensate victims of state security in its deep south, where a simmering insurgency has left thousands of people dead.

Rights groups have welcomed the plan as a positive step towards reconciliation but say the region still lacks much needed justice and accountability.

A committee appointed by the Thai government approved pay-outs of up to a quarter of a million dollars each for people affected by violence in the deep south. They include relatives of those killed by state security in incidents that analysts say helped fuel an insurgency that has claimed more than 5,000 lives since 2004.

Among the families to be compensated are relatives of those killed in 2004, when security forces crushed a group of Muslim militants seeking refuge at Pattani Province’s Krue Se mosque.

A few months later, 78 anti-government demonstrators died of suffocation after they were arrested and packed into trucks. Under the new plan, their relatives would be compensated.

Family of missing relatives believed to have been “disappeared” by security forces would also be compensated.

According to Sunai Phasuk, a researcher on Thailand for New York-based Human Rights Watch, the group has documented 39 cases of forced disappearance. Although the damages for southern victims is the highest ever offered and is significant in its recognition of victims of state security, Phasuk said, it does not go far enough.

“More important than compensation, there need to be investigations," he said.  "There needs to be accountability. And, we hope that this [is] a very important first step that will lead to broader investigation into state-sponsored violence in the south, which has been going on for many, many years.”

The settlement for the southern victims follows a similar deal in January to compensate victims of the country’s political violence that has sporadically gripped Bangkok since 2005. Analysts say that compensation plan put pressure on the government to address the long-running grievances in the south.

Muslim men run with the body of a man following a shootout with soldiers near Pattani, southern Thailand, April 13, 2007. (file photo)
Muslim men run with the body of a man following a shootout with soldiers near Pattani, southern Thailand, April 13, 2007. (file photo)

A separate committee is later expected to determine compensation for relatives of security officials killed in the southern incidents.

Benjamin Zawacki, from Amnesty International in Thailand, said the conflict in the south is Thailand’s most egregious human rights problem.

“Not a single official has been held accountable for human rights violations in the deep south during that time, despite the fact that roughly 50 percent of the insurgents that have been prosecuted have been convicted," Zawacki said.  "And, so there's definitely a justice deficit in the south.”

Just hours from Thailand’s famous tourist beaches, the insurgency remains concentrated in its three most southern provinces: Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala.

Southern Thailand was an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before the Buddhist kingdom seized the region a century ago.

Ethnic Malay Muslims not happy under Thai Buddhist rule have since fought an on-and-off insurgency believed aimed at some form of autonomy.  But the insurgents’ objectives remain murky as they have no public face and no clearly stated goals. They target Thai soldiers and police, but also kill hundreds of soft targets such at teachers, monks, and farmers, seen as representing the Thai Buddhist state.

Rights groups say that shadowy group security forces have resorted to torture and arbitrary detention.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs