Thailand: GangsterLand


February 7, 2012: Government plans to send Burmese refugees home is running into a lot of resistance. For one thing, the fighting the largely tribal refugees have fled is still going on, despite what the Burmese government says. Thailand hosts over 150,000 refugees from Myanmar (Burma) in Thailand, nearly all of them from tribes that have been fighting the Burmese government for centuries. The refugees began arriving in the 1980s, and many camp inhabitants have grown up in the camps, and know little of life in rural Burma.

The violence in the south continues, with the army suffering a setback recently when some troops erroneously fired on and killed four civilians. This makes it particularly difficult for troops to operate in the rural "red zones" (areas around about 200 villages where the smuggler gangs or Islamic terrorists have been active.)

In the south, a Moslem man was shot dead in a tea shop near the Malaysia border. It's unclear if this was gangster or Islamic terrorist related. The south has always been more violent than the rest of the country. But until a decade ago, all the violence was the result of gangster and clan feuds, and non-political criminal behavior. But since the 1990s, Islamic radicalism has become more fashionable. Now hundreds of teenagers and young men are involved in Islamic terror groups, with many of these guys also working for smuggling gangs, or eventually moving over to the gangster side entirely.

February 3, 2012: In the south, two people were shot dead in two separate attacks (at least one of which appears to be gangster, not Islamic terrorist, related).

January 29, 2012:  An army patrol came across a pickup truck. The soldiers were then startled by something and opened fire on the truck, killing four Moslems (including a teenager and an elderly man). This angered local civilians and the army quickly promised an investigation.



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