Thailand: Buddhist minority declines in the 'deep south' due to protracted armed conflict
Police checkpoint on the road to Yala city, Yala (IDMC/Frederik Kok, June 2011)
- Country Statistics
- Latest IDP figure:
- Number of refugees:
- (Originating from the country)
380 (UNHCR, as of January 2013)
- Total Population:
- 64 mio
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31 December 2012
The government has been confronting Malay Muslim separatist groups in southern Thailand for more than a century, and low-level violence continued to affect the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala in 2012. By the end of year, an estimated 5,500 people had been killed and 9,700 injured since 2004. Attacks on schools and teachers, which insurgents see as symbols of Thai occupation, intensified towards the end of the year, causing a rise in transfer applications from Buddhist teachers.
The Buddhist minority has been disproportionately affected by the violence. The number of people displaced since 2004, when the violence resumed, is unknown, but available information suggests that as many as 240,000 people may have fled their homes. This would account for around 30 per cent of the Buddhist population and ten per cent of Malay Muslims.
Some IDPs fled in direct response to the violence, but many have moved because of its adverse effects on the economy and the provision of education and social services. Most IDPs have moved to urban areas inside the affected provinces where, like the rest of the population, they remain at risk of violence. Buddhist IDPs have been more likely to leave the three provinces.
The government set up a $39 million fund in September to purchase Buddhist land in an effort to ensure that it does not fall into the hands of groups associated with the insurgency. IDPs would be able to redeem their land should they choose to return. The government has not taken any steps to assess the extent of displacement, nor has it adopted any other measures to address the issue. It has, however, provided some assistance to victims of insurgent violence and their families.
The absence of the UN in the three provinces has seriously limited its capacity to report on human rights violations committed by any of the parties to the conflict, or on the extent and consequences of the related displacement.
Since 2004, there has been a resurgence of violence in Thailand’s southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, where the government is facing the violent opposition of a number of Malay Muslim insurgency groups. Close to 5,000 people have been killed and nearly 8,000 injured. Buddhists, estimated to represent around 20 per cent of the total population of the three provinces in 2000, have been disproportionately affected by the violence; they account for nearly 40 per cent of all deaths and more than 60 per cent of all injured. Civilians from both communities are the main victims of the violence. As a result, many have since 2004 fled their homes and moved to safer areas.
There are no reliable figures on the number of people displaced since 2004, but available information suggests that at least 30 per cent of Buddhists and ten per cent of Malay Muslims may have left their homes. While some have fled in direct response to the violence, many have moved because of the adverse effects of the conflict on the economy, on the availability and quality of education or on the provision of social services. Many of the displacements are also intended to be only temporary, and have split families, the head of household staying and the wife and children moving to safer areas. (...)
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15 November 2011
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- Key Documents
- Waging Peace: ASEAN and the Thai-Cambodian Border Conflict, ICG, 6 December 2011
- "They took nothing but his life" - Unlawful killings in Thailand's southern insurgency, AI, 27 September 2011
- "Up to 200,000 flee violence, straining the city's resources", Bangkok Post, 13 June 2011
- "Thai-Cambodian border clashes draw 40,000 worried evacuees to shelters", The Nation, 24 April 2011
- "Cambodia/Thailand: Border dispute displaces up to 30,000", Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), 9 February 2011
- Target of both sides - Violence against Students, Teachers, and Schools in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 20 September 2010
- Rule by the Gun: Armed Civilians and Firearms Proliferation in Southern Thailand, Nonviolence International South East Asia (NISEA), May 2009
- "Migration and the violence in the far south", in Chaiwat Satha-Anand, ed., Imagined Land: Solving Southern Violence in Thailand (Research Institute for the Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2009) pp. 165–78, Phithakkumpol, Zakee, 2009
- Southern Thailand: The Problem with Paramilitaries, International Crisis Group (ICG), 23 October 2007
- No One Is Safe: Insurgent Attacks on Civilians in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces, Human Rights Watch (HRW), August 2007
- Impact of violence on safety lives and properties: case study of people migration in 3 southern border provinces, Kittaworn, P., Lerdpipat, D. & Pulsub, A., 2007
- "Thailand fears Buddhist exodus from Muslim insurgency in south", Associated Press (AP), 10 December 2006