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First month in 16 years with no insurgency attacks in Thailand

Jack Burton

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First month in 16 years with no insurgency attacks in Thailand | Thaiger
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

Last month was the first in 16 years in which there were no insurgent attacks on Thai forces or civilians, either in Thailand’s restive Deep South or elsewhere. The country’s three Muslim-majority southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, all around Malaysia’s northern border, have been embroiled in a bloody separatist insurgency for the best part of two decades.

More than 7,000 people have been killed by violence and many more injured in fighting, which has often seen civilians targetted.

But the coronavirus outbreak has prompted an ad-hoc ceasefire between the Thai government forces and the mainly ethnic Malay separatists. The main militant group operating in the area, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, released a statement Friday saying that the “cessation of all activities” is “to provide humanitarian access to all parties to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic.”

The group says that the ceasefire was to remain as long as the BRN was not attacked by the Thai government, according to documents shared by Human Rights Watch. (NOTE: 3 suspected insurgents were killed in a firefight with Thai forces on Thursday after a raid on their house in Pattani. All three were wanted criminals.)

The BRN also criticised the Thai government for continuing house searches, arbitrary arrests and DNA collection.

“We call upon the Royal Thai Government to reciprocate and prioritise Covid-19 prevention over war at this time.”

First month in 16 years with no insurgency attacks in Thailand | News by Thaiger

Peace talks between the BRN and the Thai Government have made slow progress in recent months but have been derailed by the coronavirus outbreak. In March, the two sides met in Kuala Lumpur for face-to-face meetings, 6 years after the BRN’s last dialogue with the Thai government. The talks were described as “constructive” and focused on reducing levels of violence.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 in Thailand has meant the government placing its priorities elsewhere, as lockdown measures were enacted to curtail the virus’ spread.

Sources within the Thai army tell the Thai Enquirer that right now the army and the Ministry of Public Health are focused on containing the virus in the South, which is the site of the largest outbreak outside of Bangkok.

“The insurgency and peace talks can wait until after we have this under control.”

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Insurgency

Roadside bomb explodes in Yala, injuring policeman and volunteer

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Roadside bomb explodes in Yala, injuring policeman and volunteer | Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/ศูนย์แม่หลวง ปัตตานี

A roadside bomb in Thailand’s southern Yala province, is being blamed for injuring a tourist policeman and a police volunteer. The bomb exploded, causing shrapnel to hit the pair while they were driving through Bannang Sata district at around 8pm.

The pair was travelling on Road 410, the Yala-Betong route, when the bomb went off, hitting their pickup truck and scattering debris all over the road. The shrapnel hit their faces, and officials say they had ear damage from the bomb’s noise, and chest pains. They were rushed to the Yala hospital where the governor later visited them.

Just yesterday, Yala police were investigating after diffusing a bomb they had found in a stolen delivery truck behind a police station. They say the truck was stolen by holding the driver, Baihakee Longluwa, of Kerry Express, at gunpoint. The armed men allegedly pushed Baihakee inside of a house, tied up his hands, and left with the truck.

According to Chiang Rai Times, Baihakee was able to free himself and called the police who then were dispatched to intercept the stolen vehicle. Police found the truck parked behind the Raman police station in Muang Yala. But, the story doesn’t stop there.

Police say bomb disposal officers were called to examine the truck after finding home-made bombs stuffed into 2 cooking gas cylinders under the driver’s seat. They found another bomb stuffed into a bottle of mosquito repellant in a rubbish bin nearby the truck. The bomb squad says they successfully destroyed the bombs.

CCTV caught a black motorcycle arriving to pick up a man who had driven the truck to the police station. Another incident last Saturday occurred in which a group of people burned car tires on 2 different roads and stole 5 CCTV cameras, 3 4G devices and 2 Wi-Fi devices in the Than To and Muang districts of Yala. Police say they found a spray painting at 1 location and a suspicious object that has not yet been identified.

The recent incidents are only a small part of the ongoing South Thailand insurgency, which is a conflict centered on southern Thailand’s disputed border region with Malaysia. Although there’s been bubbling discontent around the region since the start of the 20th century, it emerged as a serious issue for the Malaysian and Thai governments in 1948 as an ethnic and religious separatist insurgency in the historical Malay Patani region.

It has become a more complex ‘land grab’, and increasingly violent since the early 2000s due to drug cartels, oil smuggling networks, and occasionally even pirates. The area has been coined the ‘deep south’ or the ‘restive south’ and has become, statistically, a more bloody conflict than the situation on the Gaza Peninsula in the Middle East.

เหตุ 511 (ระเบิด) #คนร้ายลอบวางระเบิดเจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจบาดเจ็บ2นาย
วันที่ 25 มี.ค.64 เวลาประมาณ 2025 เกิดเหตุ 511…

Posted by ศูนย์แม่หลวง ปัตตานี on Thursday, March 25, 2021

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Bombs found in stolen truck behind police station in Yala

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Bombs found in stolen truck behind police station in Yala | Thaiger

Police in Yala, one of Thailand’s 3 southern border provinces, are investigating after diffusing a bomb they found in a stolen delivery truck behind a police station. They say the truck was stolen by holding the driver, Baihakee Longluwa, of Kerry Express, at gunpoint. The armed men allegedly pushed Baihakee inside of a house, tied up his hands, and left with the truck.

According to Chiang Rai Times, Baihakee was able to free himself and called the police who then were dispatched to intercept the stolen vehicle. Police found the truck parked behind the Raman police station in Muang Yala. But, the story doesn’t stop there.

Police say bomb disposal officers were called to examine the truck after finding home-made bombs stuffed into 2 cooking gas cylinders under the driver’s seat. They found another bomb stuffed into a bottle of mosquito repellant in a rubbish bin nearby the truck. The bomb squad says they successfully destroyed the bombs.

CCTV caught a black motorcycle arriving to pick up a man who had driven the truck to the police station. Another incident last Saturday occurred in which a group of people burned car tires on 2 different roads and stole 5 CCTV cameras, 3 4G devices and 2 Wi-Fi devices in the Than To and Muang districts of Yala. Police say they found a spray painting at 1 location and a suspicious object that has not yet been identified.

The recent incidents are only a small part of the ongoing South Thailand insurgency, which is a conflict centered on southern Thailand’s disputed border region with Malaysia. Although there’s been bubbling discontent around the region since the start of the 20th century, it emerged as a serious issue for the Malaysian and Thai governments in 1948 as an ethnic and religious separatist insurgency in the historical Malay Patani region.

It has become a more complex ‘land grab’, and increasingly violent since the early 2000s due to drug cartels, oil smuggling networks, and occasionally even pirates. The area has been coined the ‘deep south’ or the ‘restive south’ and has become, statistically, a more bloody conflict than the situation on the Gaza Peninsula in the Middle East.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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