Southern Thailand Has Been Experiencing an Islamic Succession Movement Since the 1950’s


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Thai Troops in Thailand

By GARRETT FRAIRE

Southern Thailand, (The Patani Region) was ruled by Islamic Sultans as early as the 1400’s. The Sultans followed Islamic law and developed differently than the Siamese kings of northern Thailand. The Thai government allowed the Patani region to rule themselves. However in 1932 a coup occurred which overthrew the absolute Thai Monarchy and established a military dictatorship. The Dictatorship began to culturally assimilate the people of the Patani region. Islamic law was replaced with Thai law, schools were reformed to drop Islamic teachings, and local Patani language was replaced with Thai.

The Patani people were angry with the Thai government and began to form secession movements. The first Patani movement, known as the Patani People Movement, formed in 1947 by Haji Sulong. Sulong was quickly arrested in 1948. However Patani groups only continued to grow. In 1959 the Patani National Liberation Front was formed. (BNPP) The BNPP sought  autonomy through an armed struggle. The BNPP wants an independent Patani state. Other groups began forming such as the PULO. Attacks were typically carried out by drive by shootings.

The Patani groups were largely unorganized and ineffective.  From the 1960’s to 1980’s the Thai government could deal with the Patani groups. However in the 1990’s Patani groups began to become more organized. New groups began to appear such as the BRN and RKK. The BRN is well organized and is currently the most active group. The BRN imposes harsh islamic law and uses child soldiers.

In 2001, Patani groups began launching well organized attacks on police outposts.  The groups began to carry out bombing of both police and civilian targets. The groups began to lose the goal of Patani autonomy and moved towards establishing an islamic state.Every few months these groups launch well coordinated attacks. Groups are controlled by Salafi hardliners. Salafism is the same ideology that ISIS uses. Groups attack schools and execute teachers for un-islamic teachings. These groups launch violent attacks such as a shooting at a restaurant which killed 7 including a child in 2013. 90% of deaths from attacks are civilian. Groups also target buddhist monks in attacks. From 2004 to 2007 there was over 6,000 violent attacks.

The Thai government is having trouble dealing with the situation due to political instability within the Thai government. Thailand has experienced two coups since 2000. As of 2014 Thailand has been controlled by a military dictatorship. The coups cause an increase in violence from the Insurgents.

Since 2004 2,316 civilians , 650 military and police, and 250 insurgents have been killed.  The last attack to occur was a roadside bombing which killed one and injured three on February 26, 2019


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