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4.6) war, many Thai Muslim youth went to

4.6) External cause

In
addition to internal causes such as culture, ethnicity, socio-economic,
education and politic causes, external factors have been found that fueled the
violence in the South (Maisonti, 2004). Since the 1960s, the Muslims in
southern Thailand were influenced by an international revival of Islam
(Timberman, 2013). It was found that the international Islamic network has
enjoyed stimulating Muslim identity, cultures and local network within a
country, especially in the southern border provinces of Thailand (Liow, 2011). 

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The
international conflicts, such as the Iranian revolution have been considered as
they affected socio-economic plus political development of the Muslims around
the world (Timberman, 2013). Kiti Rattanachaya, the retired General, linked terrorism
in Thailand especially in the South to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989)
(Wannabovorn, 2004). During the war, many Thai Muslim youth went to Afghanistan
in order to help the Mujihideen – the rebel group engaged in a jihad – fight
against the Soviet army. After the war was over, they returned to their home
country and formed the Mujahideen in Pattani (Maisonti,
2004). Later on, the Gerakan Mujahideen Islam Pattani (GMIP) was founded by
young Afhanistan veterans who residing in Thailand, intended to reactivate
separatist groups with Jihadi ideology (Jane’s
Intelligence Review, 2003)

Nevertheless,
not only those who went to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war, there were many of
Thai Muslim youth, who graduated from schools in the Middle East countries.
Most of them returned to Thailand and became religious teachers in Islamic
schools, preaching the Wahhabi doctrine to Muslim students in the South. This
activity implies an influence of Islamic Fundamentalism on a Muslim community
in Thailand.  Through a spread of the
Wahhabi doctrine, the goal of separatist group has been more aggressive
following Jihadi ideology – killing infidels and non-believers (Maisonti,
2004). This has revealed in the violence, which targeted not only the
government officials, but also monks, Buddhist teachers, and even common
civilians.

The
international terrorist organizations such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) are
believed that involved in existing violence in the South. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
is an extremist group with a goal to build an idealized Islamic fundamentalist
state in Southeast Asian countries (Maisonti, 2004). Considering the separatist
group’s attack on April 28, 2004, the complexity of their operation has shown
that they did receive guidance from extremist groups (Rabasa et al, 2004). Some
of the dead attackers were from countries other than Thailand and one of them
was founded that had a “JI” symbol on his jacket (Bradley, 2004). After this
attack, Thai government thus believes that the international terrorist groups
are continually operating in Thailand to supporting Muslim separatist groups.

However,
there is an opposition against the notion that the insurgency was fueled by the
international Islamic network or by global Jihadi group. According to the International
Crisis Group (2009), there is no clear evidence proving that the struggle of
the Muslims, which leads to the insurgency, is linked to global Jihadi group (ICG,
2009). The climate of violence, occurred in the southern region of Thailand, is
found distinctively different from JI terrorist activity (Liow, 2011).  The insurgent is instead influenced by events
in its neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia (ICG, 2009).

4.7) The province of Satun

The paper focuses on the insurgency in Southern
Thailand, especially in the three border provinces – Pattani, Yala, and
Narathiwat. These provinces have distinctively different ethnic and religious
background of population from Thai mainstream society. However, in order to
examine the root causes of the insurgency, the province, namely Satun, in which
similar background exists, shall be studied.

There are some journals and articles mentioned that
Satun province of Thailand was once a part of the Malay kingdom of Patani or Patani Raya. For example,
cited in the paper of Aphornsuvan (2003), ‘The
history of the Muslims in the Greater Patani Region, which comprises the four
provinces of Satun, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, has been one of
independence…(p.3)’.
Hence, Satun shares many similarities with Muslim communities in the other
three southern provinces, for instance, establishing Islam as the dominant
religion (Conlon, 2012).

Also,
Satun was often found that included in some public statement by major armed
separatist groups in an attempt to make these border provinces become an
independent Islamic state. For example, a letter of intent stated by Gabungan
Melayu Pattani Raya or known as GAMPAR, the declaration of the Patani United
Liberation Organization (PULO), and the seven-point petition by Haji Sulong.

In
terms of socio-economic condition, similar to Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat,
Satun was found to be one of the least developed provinces of Thailand. In
2001, the unemployment rate of Satun raked even higher than the rate of three
southern provinces (UNDP, 2003). However, at the same time the housing and
living condition in Satun were much better than in the three southern
provinces, and the health index was slightly higher. Interestingly, Satun
showed the highest percentage of political participation (measured by vote
turnout) in the southern region, furthermore ranked in the top 5 of the
provincial ranking (UNDP, 2003).

Despite
its ethnic and religious difference from a national mainstream, Satun does not
experience the same level of violence as experienced in Pattani, Yala, and
Narathiwat (Conlon, 2012).
Several reasons have been raised to explain this exceptional condition of
Satun.

Firstly
the Muslim community in Satun is not strong as the one in the three provinces,
resulting in easily accepting Thai Government’s assimilation process. For
instance, over 99 percent of Satun’s residents today speak Thai instead of bahasa ibunda(mother tongue of
Malaysian) as a primary language (Parks,
2009). By speaking
the national language, the residents are likely to have more opportunities to
get a job and travel across the regions (Conlon, 2012). They further welcomed the establishing of public school
and recognized it as a sign of social development rather than cultural
domination.

Next,
most of appointed leaders and elites in Satun have similar backgrounds to the
local residents, moreover some of them are able to speak both Thai and local
Malay. As a result, these elites have been acceptable to not only local
residents but also the center government, led to a better political
participation of Satun and effective center-periphery relations with Thai
government (Conlon, 2012).

Interestingly,
since Satun is not being recognized as a national threat, security/military
forces in Satun are thus less aggressive and smaller than those employed in
Patani region (Conlon, 2012).
Moreover, it is found that the security units can maintain a positive working
relationship with the local residents.

 

5. Literature Review                                                                                      

 

5.1)      In 2005, Aurel
Croissant stated that the ethno-religious violence particularly the insurgency
in the three southern provinces of Thailand has multiple causes, which include
historical root, religious differences, social and economic marginalization. Such
causes have therefore resulted in local grievances (Croissant, 2005). Croissant further viewed “Internal colonialism”
as a main cause deepening economic disparities between the central Bangkok and
the rural hinterland, for example, the Northeast region and the Southernmost
provinces.

Not only the economic disparities, but also
the political subordination as well as social discrimination are seen as causes
of the insurgency in the southernmost provinces (Croissant, 2005). Education
background plus damaged reputations due to a high crime rate, small-arms trade,
for instance, resulted in lack of opportunity in political participation of the
Muslims.  

5.2)      Similar to
Croissant’s journal published in 2005, in David G. Timberman’s (2013) report
named Violent Extremism and Insurgency in Southern Thailand: A Risk Assessment,
it was found that Patani’s history of oppression under Thai rule has motivated
the insurgency in the Southern Thailand. The forcibly incorporation into Thai
state in the early 20th century, has a huge cost on Patani identity
as well as autonomy (Timberman, 2013).

Timberman moreover stated that
socio-economic inequality plays a primary role in intensifying the sense of
alienation among the Muslims, which subsequently became a driver of the
insurgency. Although the Muslims have shared some economic benefits resulted
from the rapid development of Thailand, they remain remarkably worse off than
other ethno-religious groups, particularly the Buddhists (Timberman, 2013).

Another significant factor driving the
insurgency is national-building or Thai-style (Timberman, 2013). The highly centralized
governance mode has challenged the authority of former local rulers, as they
were replaced by officials dispatched from Bangkok. A few number of Muslim
politicians from the southern provinces plus their low-credibility obviously
resulted in a lack of political participation of the southernmost provinces.   

                                                                                               

7. Conclusion                                                                                     

 

The main cause of the conflict and
insurgency in the South of Thailand, though cannot be concluded into a single
one, rooted in the Patani identity and political grievances.

Once the Patani region became acknowledged
as one of Siam territories in 1909, Siam assimilated it in many ways. Culture,
religion, and language, the key elements of the Patani identity, were ignored
and declined by Siam (later known as Thai government)’s assimilation processes.
 Theses assimilation processes were
moreover seen as the Thai government’s approach to put the Malay Muslims into
second-class citizen category (Mahakanjana,
2006). 

In addition to an ignorance of Patani identity, Thai
government moreover replaced traditional governance system of the Malay Muslim
population with Thai political system including Bangkok-based bureaucrats. This
political system has brought about political disparities between the Malay
Muslim and the Buddhist, rising