Thailand: Islamic Terrorists Refuse to Negotiate

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August 30, 2007: For most Thais, the violence in the south is less important than the military and royalists seeking to outlaw populist politicians and political parties. Since the country became a constitutional monarchy over 70 years ago, reformers have wrestled with the Old Guard over who had the right to make decisions. The Thais have done this largely without violence, and largely because they have kings who are respected, and opponents who are not trigger happy. The ballot box is used to ultimately settle these disputes, but it takes time, and threatens the economic prosperity of the last few decades. That bothers most Thais, more than a few bloody minded Moslems down south. National elections, to select politicians to replace the military dictatorship, are to be held on December 23rd.

Down south, the Islamic terrorists make themselves more unpopular with continued attacks on schools. The attacks on non-Moslems are less of an issue, unless the victim is a teacher. Most of the teachers are Buddhists, because not enough Moslems go to college. Over sixty teachers have been killed in the last three years, and hundreds driven from their jobs by threats. About ten percent of schools in the south have been burned down, or shut down by threats or lack of teachers. Parents are angry over this, because they know that education is the only way their children have a chance of participating in Thailand's economic boom. The Islamic radicals offer only threats and vague promises of a new life under Islamic rule. Meanwhile, the army and police have pierced the wall of silence surrounding the Islamic militants, and put together data on who the terrorists are. Over 500 suspects have been arrested, and 70 percent of them are still be held and "re-educated." This is typically Thai, and to a Westerner appears to be a form of government terrorism. But it's a cultural thing, common in East Asia. In times past, such people would be held as hostages for the good behavior of their families. Now, they get talked to for a few months and released. It actually works in many cases. Meanwhile the rebels have let it be known that they plan to terrorize the south for three to five more before they enter negotiations. The terrorists want to kill ten times as many people, and force the government to let them establish an Islamic state in the south. Since the government is starting to take apart the rebel organization, it's unlikely the Islamic terrorists will be around in three years. Thailand has dealt with Moslem unrest in the south before. The mostly young rebels have ignored the stories their elders tell, of what happened to past separatist movements. Ignore the past, and you relive it.

 

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