Gallery: South Thailand Unrest
Over the past years, insurgents have increased their attacks South Thailand, particularly Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces. They allegedly burned government schools and bombed markets and shops, especially owned by Buddhists. They have murdered Buddhists, as well as Muslims working with Thai authorities. Since the latest unrest broke out in the Muslim-majority Thai south in January 2004, more than 3,000 people have been killed. In response to the political violence, the government has deployed more than 30, 000 troops to the region. In addition, local authorities have also helped organize a large number of armed volunteers, or militias.
The violence is rooted in a conflict going back more than a hundred years, after the three southernmost provinces, which were once part of the Kingdom of Pattani, were annexed in 1902 by Siam, as Thailand was then known. Since then, Malay-Muslims in the area have complained of cultural, linguistic and economic discrimination by the heavily centralized, predominantly Buddhist, Thai government. These social, political environments have created some radical forces of separate insurgency movement, even though the majority of Thailand’s ethnic Malay-Muslims don’t support it.