Thailand: Peace For A Price

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July 23, 2013: The first ever holiday (Moslem holy month of Ramadan) truce in the Moslem south seems to be holding. But it’s often hard to tell because so much of the violence in the south turns out to be personal disputes or gangster related conflicts, not Islamic terrorism. Currently there are 5-15 terrorist related deaths in the south each week. Many that are, at first, believed Islamic terrorism related are later reclassified when investigators find criminal or personal circumstances. The criminal gangs are heavily involved with the Islamic terrorists and the killers often combine regular business with Islamic terrorism when they kill someone. This is particularly true now that the Islamic terrorists are killing more Moslems (for cooperating with the police, which is often done because of common criminal matters). The south has always been more lawless and violent than the rest of the country. It is feared that the terrorists will end the truce because of a mistaken belief that the police and military will shut down completely and also allow criminal activities to continue without interference. This is not going to happen but because of the criminal gangs influence among the Islamic terrorists, this is expected.

Moslem refugees from Burma are telling reporters that they got into Thailand because navy patrol boat commanders were taking bribes from smugglers to allow the refugee filled fishing boats to pass. Police and army units guarding the coast could also be paid off. The Thai Navy and other security services denies this is going on. But a recent opinion poll showed that 60 percent of Thais are tolerant of corruption and that sort of bad behavior has been known to occur in the military. Meanwhile, the government refuses (despite growing international pressure) to accept Rohingya (Burmese Moslems) refugees from Burma. At the start of 2013, the government ordered Rohingya to be blocked from entering the country. Despite that, over a thousand Rohingya manage to get into Thailand each month this year. During the last few years Thailand was more receptive of these Burmese Moslem refugees. Then there was another outbreak of violence between Rohingya and Burmese in mid-2012 that caused many more Rohingya to flee. Some 13,000 Rohingya fled Burma last year, up from 7,000 in 2011. Thailand is a favorite destination for refugees because of the booming economy. The Thais know this and deport any economic refugees they catch. While the business community likes the illegals for their willingness to work harder for less pay, most Thais oppose illegals for the same reason. The Rohingya have long been a special problem in both Burma and Thailand. The Burmese do not recognize the Rohingya as Burmese. In part this was because the Rohingya lived on the Burmese/Bangladesh border and were considered invaders from Bangladesh, and partly because the Burmese are largely Buddhist and have had problems with Moslems (who tend to be a lot more intolerant and aggressive when it comes to religion). Moreover, while most Burmese have an East Asian appearance, the Rohingya look like Indians. Criminal gangs in the area are selling places on boats that attempt to sneak into Thai waters, where the Rohingya could claim asylum. But the first few months of 2013 Thailand arrested over 4,000 Rohingya refugees and confined them in guarded camps until the refugees agree to go back to Burma.

July 12, 2013: One of the largest separatist groups in the south, the BRN (Barisan Revolusi Nasional), has agreed to a 40 day Ramadan truce from July 10th to August 18th. BRN is not the most violent terror group down there but says it can keep things quiet. The BRN believes the government also agreed to move most of the 60,000 soldiers out of the three Moslem provinces. The government says this was never part of the deal, and all the government has even said on that is that soldiers would be withdrawn is violence continued to decline. Some soldiers have been withdrawn and others are being moved to villages (in small detachments and in some 500 villages).

July 5, 2013: In the south five local defense volunteers were wounded by a roadside bomb and Islamic terrorist gunfire. The local volunteers (both Moslem and Buddhist) are a growing problem for Islamic terrorists. Although not highly trained they have guns, cell phones, and an intimate knowledge of the area they operate in. This makes it more difficult for the Islamic terrorists and smugglers to move around freely. 

 

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