Southern Thailand

Status
Medium-intensity

Conflict Summary

The insurgency in the predominantly Muslim southern provinces of Thailand, on the border with Malaysia, has killed over 4,000 people since it reignited in 2004. The rebels are a disparate collection of groups, who have never fully revealed their leadership, have never articulated specific demands and rarely claim responsibility for attacks. However, they believe that Siam (now Thailand) 'illegally incorporated' their Malay Muslim region 100 years ago, and continue to see Thailand's rule as illegitimate. Widespread poverty and perceived human-rights abuses add to a sense of disenfranchisement. Armed separatist groups began railing against discrimination and forced assimilation in the late 1960s, but political and economic reforms all but ended the insurgency by the mid-1990s. Violence reemerged after groups such as the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) split into more militant factions, new groups like the Gerekan Mujahadeen Islam Pattani (GMIP, Pattani Islamic Mujahideen Movement) and the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) emerged, and Bangkok reimposed more central control of the region in the wake of 9/11. Despite a rise in Islamic consciousness and an increased Wahhabist influence in education, there is little evidence that transnational terrorist organisations such as Jemaah Islamiah or even al-Qaeda have played a role in the violence – which reignited in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces, but has sporadically affected Songkhla since.