II. Insurgency in the South

A brief history of insurgency

To varying degrees, the southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat have been the scene of separatist activity for more than a century.

Before it was annexed by Thailand (then Siam) in 1902, the region consisted of independent Muslim sultanates. Since then its distinctive religious, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and historical traits have often continued to clash with Thailand’s Buddhist and nationalist culture.1 The majority of the population are ethnic Malay Muslims and speak a local dialect of the Malay language known as Jawi.

Attempts by Thai authorities to suppress and assimilate those differences by various measures—from alteration of administrative structures to the assertion of centralized control over Islamic education and practices—as well as indifference towards the local economy, standard of living, the rule of law, and justice in the southern border provinces have resulted in a general atmosphere of resentment and alienation among the ethnic Malay Muslim population. This has provided the context for resistance and insurgency, based largely on three ideological foundations—namely the belief in traditional virtues and the greatness of the Islamic Land of Patani (Patani Darussalam),2 the Malay ethnic identification, and a religious orientation based on Islam.3

For many decades, traditional leaders in the southern border provinces—including the displaced elite who lived in exile and head teachers(tok guru) of local Islamic boarding schools (ponoh)4—have taken the role of defenders of the faith and upholders of ethnic Malay Muslim identity to mobilize a series of political resistance movements and armed struggles. The movement for the independence of Pattani was broadened significantly by the creation of the Patani People’s Movement by Haji Sulong (Sulong bin Abdul Kadir bin Mohammad el Patani), chairman of the Pattani Provincial Islamic Council. In 1947 Haji Sulong led a petition campaign for autonomy, language and cultural rights, and implementation of Islamic law. The nationalist military government of Field Marshal Phibun Songkhram reacted by arresting Haji Sulong together with several other religious leaders and Muslim parliamentarians on treason charges in January 1948. Haji Sulong was released from prison in 1952 but disappeared along with his eldest son, Ahmad Tomeena, in 1954. The presumed murder of Haji Sulong by Thai authorities transformed him into the symbol of ethnic Malay Muslim resistance.5

Political and armed groups driven by the ideology of ethnic Malay Muslim separatism in Thailand’s southern border provinces were consolidated in the 1950s by formation of the Greater Patani Malayu Association (Gabungam Melayu Patani Raya, GAMPAR) with the objective of incorporating Thailand’s Muslim provinces into Malaya. Soon after that, Tengku Jalal Nasir (also known as Adul Na Saiburi), GAMPAR deputy leader and former Narathiwat parliamentarian, established the Patani National Liberation Front (Barisan Nasional Pembebasan Patani, BNPP) in 1959 as the first organized armed Malay ethnic Muslim resistance group.6

The expansion of the ethnic Malay Muslim resistance and violence accelerated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this period four main ethnic Malay Muslim separatist groups operated in Thailand’s southern border provinces—the BNPP,7 the Patani United Liberation Organization (Bertubuhan Pembebasan Patani Bersatu, PULO), the National Revolution Front (Barisan Revolusi Nasional, BRN)8 and the Islamic Mujahidin Movement of Patani (Gerakan Mujahidin Islam Patani, GMIP). Each of these organizations was founded to establish an independent homeland by casting ethnic Malay nationalism in Islamic terms. On August 31, 1989, leaders of these groups formed the United Front for the Independence of Pattani (Barisan Kemerdekan Patani, Bersatu), which served as an umbrella organization for political coordination and pooling of resources for the ethnic Malay Muslim separatist movement. In addition, 60 other fringe groups comprised of both ethnic Malay Muslim separatists and criminal gangs were operating.9

The volatility of the communal situation in the southern border provinces has been fed by continued perceptions among the ethnic Malay Muslim population that they have been subject to decades of protracted corruption, exploitation, brutality, and violence at the hands of Thai authorities.10 This resentment and frustration has helped to keep the insurgency alive despite a series of massive counterinsurgency operations by the Thai government.

The need to address political and social conditions underlying armed struggles led by the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) in many parts of the country and the ethnic Malay Muslim separatist insurgency in the southern border provinces prompted the Thai government to review its security and counterinsurgency policy. Then-Prime Minister Gen. Prem Tinsulananda issued two executive orders, numbers 66/2523 (in 1980) and 65/2525 (in 1982) respectively, resulting in a potent combination of military operations and political-socioeconomic measures that aimed to remove grievances and causes that had sparked the fight against Thai authorities in the first place.

In the southern border provinces, the redirection of security policy was translated into the offer of amnesties, greater political openness, participatory administrative structures, and economic development for the ethnic Malay Muslim population.11 The Thai government introduced a three-pronged approach incorporating politics, economics, and the harmonization of rival agencies in the southern border provinces. In 1981, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Committee (SBPAC) and the Civilian-Police-Military Taskforce 43 (CPM 43) were established to enhance mutual understanding and trust between Bangkok and the ethnic Malay Muslim community, while improving intelligence gathering and coordination among various elements of Thai authorities and security forces. CPM 43 was placed under the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC), while SBPAC was attached to the Ministry of Interior and made responsible for the overall administration of the southern border provinces. SBPAC was well known for being able to listen to complaints from the ethnic Malay Muslim population concerning corrupt, abusive, or inept government officials, and was believed to be able to order the transfer of those officials within 24 hours.

At the same time, the Thai government was successful in negotiating security cooperation with Malaysia in order to seal off escape routes and hiding places of members of separatist groups. Whatever sympathies Malaysia may have had for the plight of ethnic Malay Muslims in Thailand, it too did not want an Islamic insurgency operating from its territory, fearing blowback. In January 1998 Malaysia arrested PULO leaders Abdul Rohman Bazo, Haji Daoh Thanam, Haji Mae Yala, and Haji Sama-ae Thanam, and handed them over to Thai authorities.12 The Thai government then announced a deadline of March 10, 1998, for Malay Muslim separatist groups to take up its amnesty offers.13 Nearly 1,000 members of ethnic Malay Muslim separatist groups, mainly from various factions of PULO and BRN, turned themselves in to join rehabilitation programs.14 They received amnesty and were reinstated to full citizenship rights through CPM 43-run reintegration programs, which provided plots of land as well as vocational training.15 A number of ethnic Malay Muslim leaders also began to seize the new political openness to move away from armed struggle and take part in electoral politics at the local and national levels.

By 2000, Thai authorities were confident that the ethnic Malay Muslim separatist groups had largely been quelled. That year, CPM 43 estimated that only 70­–80 separatist militants remained active in the southern border provinces, while around 200 leaders of various ethnic Malay Muslim separatist groups were living in exile.16

A new and counterproductive approach by the Thaksin government

When Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra took office in February 2001, the government treated ethnic Malay Muslim separatist groups as a spent force. It attributed the small number of shootings, acts of arson, bombings, and raids on government arsenals in the southern border provinces to banditry or turf wars between criminal gangs, or to influential people with vested interests in creating instability and undermining the government’s credibility.17

It was this assessment, and a desire to put his own people in place—particularly by enhancing the role of the police (Thaksin is a former police official) at the expense of the army—that led Thaksin to dissolve SBPAC and CPM 43 in 2002. The leading role and authority that the army had in managing the southern border provinces was transferred to the police. The special security policy, which reflected the region’s unique characteristics, was discontinued. At the same time, major changes in personnel and the transfer of most authority from the army to the police resulted in the politicization of security policy and the weakening of intelligence gathering and analysis regarding the identity of separatist groups, as well as the scale and trajectory of their violence.

Thai security personnel told Human Rights Watch that these changes fed a sense of resentment among the local population. This was partially fuelled by greater corruption and other abuses by government officials, particularly after the government launched a nationwide anti-drug campaign that quickly evolved into a violent and murderous “war on drugs” in 2003.18 Prime Minister Thaksin’s Order 29/2546, signed on January 28, 2003, called for the absolute suppression of drug trafficking by stating that, “if a person is charged with a drug offense, that person will be regarded as a dangerous person who is threatening social and national security.”19 In the ensuing weeks, the government gave governors and police chiefs in each province targets for the number of arrests of suspected drug traffickers and the seizures of narcotics. Countrywide between February and May 2003, 2,598 alleged drug offenders were shot dead in apparent extrajudicial killings;20 many of these killings appeared to be based on “blacklists” prepared by police and local government agencies. Particularly in the more lawless south these lists were used by police and local authorities to settle local disputes and, at the same time, score political points with the government.21 As blacklisted suspects had no mechanism by which to challenge their inclusion on a list, and with the increasingly intensified climate of fear, many ethnic Malay Muslim villagers turned to separatist insurgents to seek protection from imminent threats of blacklisting, arbitrary arrest, “disappearance,” and extrajudicial killing.22

A member of the National Revolution Front-Coordinate (BRN-C), which created a loose network of insurgent cells across the southern border provinces in the late 1990s and has become the driving force behind recent attacks, told Human Rights Watch that Thaksin’s “war on drugs” gave them a much needed impetus to start a new wave of insurgency:

There was a period of about seven to eight years of quietness, but that did not mean our movement had given up. Thai authorities thought they had succeeded in pacifying the situation. For us, it was a period of recuperating. After the government launched anti-drug campaigns, villagers were deeply in fear. Out of resentment towards Thai authorities, those villagers were desperate and requested us to give them protection. We gave them training in military and self-defense tactics, in parallel with political indoctrination about the struggle for independence. This is how we reestablished control of the population and stepped up attacks on the government. We truly believe in our cause—that we are fighting to liberate our land and protecting our people from the oppressive Thai authorities.23

Statistics provided by the Ninth Region Police, responsible for the southern border provinces, show a significant increase in violence—with 50 insurgent-related incidents in 2001, 75 in 2002 and 119 in 2003.24 But Thaksin still firmly dismissed any suggestion that the armed struggle for ethnic Malay Muslim independence might have been reactivated.

Recent escalation of the insurgency and government responses

The Thaksin government’s approach to the south was seriously challenged by a new round of insurgent violence that began in January 2004. On the morning of January 4, more than 50 armed men stormed weapon depots of the Fourth Engineering Battalion at the Narathiwat Rajanakarin Camp and took a large cache of assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, pistols, rocket-propelled grenades, and other ammunition.25 The attackers killed four Buddhist Thai soldiers, while they rounded up soldiers who were ethnic Malay Muslims and told them to perform shahada—an Islamic profession of faith to reaffirm their conviction as a Muslim—and leave the army.26 One militant reportedly shouted, “Patani Merdeka! Patani Merdeka!” (“Free Patani!”).27 Elsewhere in Narathiwat, 20 schools and three police posts were attacked simultaneously by arsonists. The next day, several explosions took place around Pattani. Within a week, it appeared that the Thai government was not in a position to stop a new series of shootings, explosions, and arson attacks taking place all over the southern border provinces.

The resurgence of violence badly affected public confidence and pressured Thaksin to admit on January 6, 2004, that “[t]he attack signaled to the government that they [insurgents] are professional and well trained, and do not fear the authorities.”28 The prime minister ordered his deputy, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, and other senior officials, including Defense Minister Thammarak Isarangura, Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha and Army Chief Chaisit Shinawatra, to rush to the region, giving them a seven-day deadline to identify and capture those responsible for the attacks.29

Under Thaksin’s instructions, Thai authorities responded to the quickly deteriorating situation with full force. Alongside massive mobilization of the security forces to the southern border provinces, on January 5, 2004, martial law was extended to cover every district of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Soldiers and police were authorized to search and arrest without a judicial warrant. Suspects arrested under martial law were now allowed to be detained for up to seven days without charge.

Thaksin assigned the police to take a leading role in key aspects of counterinsurgency operations—ranging from intelligence gathering and analysis to making arrests and conducting interrogation. A number of police investigation teams, led by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), and army Special Warfare teams were dispatched to the southern border provinces.30 These teams combed through villages, tadika (weekend elementary Koranic schools attached to village mosques), ponoh, private Islamic schools, rubber plantations, orchards, and mountains in the southern border provinces in the attempt to recover the stolen weapons and capture those responsible for the January 4 raid. They quickly resorted to extrajudicial means and human rights violations to meet the deadlines and objectives set by Thaksin.31 Indicating the scale of abuse taking place, Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh told the Thai parliament on March 18, 2004, “Villagers [in the southern border provinces] complained to me that they have been abused continually by the authorities. They said more than 100 people have been ‘disappeared.’”32

Maropirin Ari, a 39-year-old rubber plantation worker from a village in Mu 3 Tambon Lalo, Rue So district, Narathiwat, told Human Rights Watch how armed men in military attire detained, interrogated and tortured him to find weapons stolen from the Narathiwat camp:33 

It was the morning of February 13, 2004, around 8 a.m. A group of men, wearing military camouflage clothes and masks fully covering their heads, turned up in my rubber plantation. There were 12 of them, all armed with M16 rifles. They held me up at gunpoint and forced me to walk with them through the rubber plantation up to the nearby Ju Rae Mountain for about two kilometers. I saw eight other men armed with M16 rifles, dressed in the same way as the first group, waiting there. They told me to sit down and began to question me about guns and weapons stolen from the Narathiwat army camp. They kept asking, ‘Where do you hide the guns?’ ‘How much do you make from selling those guns?’ and ‘Where do you keep the money?’  I said I knew nothing. They began to beat me up. I was punched in the face and in the stomach so many times. Even after I fell on the ground, they kept kicking me. One of them took out a jagged-edge knife and forced it against my throat. That man asked me if I still wanted to go back home alive or not. I begged him not to kill me because I did not know where those weapons were hidden or who took them. Those men asked me the same questions many times for about half an hour. I was beaten up so badly. The beating went on for so long until I passed out. I could not remember how long I was lying there. But when I woke up those men were still there, complaining that they could not find the guns. They were talking to each other in Thai language, using Bangkok dialect. I pretended to be unconscious, fearing that they would kill me, and waited for about an hour for those men to go away.

In another case, Crime Suppression Division police were implicated in the arbitrary arrest and torture of Asae Manor in March 2004 in connection with the investigation on the raid on the Narathiwat camp.  According to Asae Manor,

I cannot remember the exact date of my arrest, I only know it was in the first week of March 2004. The police terrified everyone in my village after they arrested Kamnan [sub-district chief] Anupong Panthachayangkul and accused him of being involved in the raid of the army camp. Kamnan Anupong lives in Tambon To Deng, but he is very famous and influential in other parts of Su Ngai Padi district as well. Many men, young and old, in my village in Tambon Sakor, are known to be Kamnan Anupong’s assistants. Because of that, when Kamnan Anupong was arrested, police in uniform and plainclothes came here asking people about the stolen weapons. Then one night, the village chief told me that police wanted to talk to me and assured me that I would not be harmed if I surrendered. When I was taken to Sakor district police station, there were many police waiting for me. I was blindfolded and put in a passenger cab of a pickup truck. The interrogation began inside that pickup truck. I was questioned about the stolen guns. I was punched and slapped in the face many times. The pickup truck stopped occasionally and I was taken outside and was beaten up more. Those men told me they were kong prab [CSD] police. The pickup truck stopped and I was put inside a building. I was stripped naked and tortured. I was kicked, punched, and slapped. Those police beat me up with wooden clubs. While I was blindfolded, they electrocuted my testicles and my penis more than 10 times. It was so painful that I passed out. But when I woke up, the torture started again. Each time I was hit or electrocuted, those police told me to give information about the stolen guns. They kept me in pain constantly. They did not give me food or water. At one point, they told me that they would take me to Ban Ton Airport in Narathiwat to be transferred to Bangkok. I completely lost the sense of time—did not know how long the detention and torture went on. Eventually, I was dressed up and put inside a pickup truck. When they removed the blindfold, I was outside Su Ngai Kolok district police station. The police said I was not suspected of committing any crimes, but I must keep my mouth shut. My village chief told me that I was very lucky to survive the interrogation by kong prab police, and that actually I had been detained for two days in the ‘safe house’ in Narathiwat’s Tan Yong Mountain. He said not many people got out of that interrogation center alive, without making a confession or giving information.34

One day before his “disappearance” on March 12, 2004, Somchai Neelapaijit, chairman of Thailand’s Muslim Lawyers Association and vice-chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Lawyer’s Council of Thailand, submitted a letter to the National Human Rights Commission and the Senate alleging that the police, particularly CSD police, tortured suspects in the investigation of the January 4 raid (see Part V, below).35

Tensions created by abusive measures of the security forces continued to grow, especially after security agencies listed five ponoh in Yala, 12 ponoh in Pattani, and 10 ponoh in Narathiwat as being involved in separatist activities. Some schools were searched, while teachers and students were photographed, fingerprinted, and profiled—in some cases more than once—after Thaksin made a statement directly accusing some ponoh of being a breeding ground for separatist militants.36 A number of teachers and students of tadika, ponoh, and private Islamic schools were also arrested, “disappeared,” or extrajudicially executed, resulting in heightened tension between the ethnic Malay Muslim community and the Thai government to the point that religious leaders in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat announced the suspension of cooperation with Thai authorities after accusing the security agencies of heavy-handedness and insensitivity to Islamic practices.37

Surging militancy

In response to the increasingly volatile situation, the government in April 2004 created the Southern Border Provinces Peace Building Command (SBPPBC), an integrated military-police command. This was an attempt to create a new version of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Committee and the Civilian-Police-Military Taskforce 43, both of which (as noted above) had been disbanded by Thaksin in 2002 as part of his strategy to place the police at the forefront in the south.

But instead of calming the situation, things quickly deteriorated. Separatist groups stepped up their attacks, targeting government officials, Buddhist monks and civilians, and local Muslims suspected of collaborating with Thai authorities. In many cases, separatist militants sought to justify their violent actions as retribution for state-sponsored abuses and the prevailing culture of impunity. They have particularly cited the infamous incidents at Krue Se Mosque, in which on April 28, 2004, security forces stormed into Pattani’s historic mosque with excessive violence, killing all militants hiding inside despite a clear order from the government to end the stand-off through peaceful means,38 and at Tak Bai, where on October 25, 2004, security forces were responsible for the deaths of at least 86 demonstrators in Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district, most of whom suffocated after being piled into the back of trucks to be transported to army camps many miles away.39

In the aftermath of the Tak Bai incident, 144 university lecturers from around the country submitted an open letter to Prime Minister Thaksin on November 14, 2004, calling for the government to review its policy regarding the southern border provinces, and turn its attention to peaceful means and civil society participation. Thaksin responded by encouraging people from all over Thailand to send paper birds as a peace message to the southern border provinces. In total more than 100 million paper birds were air dropped on December 5, 2004.40

The government’s failure to address criminal responsibility in these cases, and many others, has become a major obstacle to successful reconciliation initiatives with the ethnic Malay Muslim population, and to build public support for conflict resolution. While Thaksin talked about addressing injustice and economic problems, in hindsight it is clear that this was only rhetoric. The reality on the ground remained unchanged. Government abuses continued unchecked.

By the end of 2004, violence was continuing to increase at an alarming rate. In February 2005 the SBPPBC suggested that separatist insurgents had infiltrated and established control in 875 out of the total 1,574 villages in the southern border provinces.

Thaksin reached for heavy-handed solutions again when in July 2005 he announced the Executive Decree on Government Administration in Emergency Situations. The decree, which was later ratified through an abnormal procedure by the parliament, gave the prime minister sweeping powers and undermined or revoked many key safeguards against human rights abuses in areas where there was a declared state of emergency—including the power to authorize a state of emergency; to arrest and detain suspects without charge; to restrict movement and communication; to censor the media; and to deny access to redress for victims of abuses by government officials and security personnel.41 The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) chairman Anand Panyarachun complained publicly that the decree was contrary to the principle of reconciliation and instead condoned abuses, bordering on becoming a “license to kill”.42 The human rights community in Thailand and abroad also raised similar concerns. Human Rights Watch wrote an open letter to Thaksin on August 4, 2005, pointing out that the decree allowed Thai authorities to detain suspects for an initial period of 30 days in informal places of detention. The legislation also created the possibility that detainees may be held in secret, undisclosed, or inaccessible locations where monitoring is impossible and there is no judicial oversight or access to legal counsel or family. Such measures heightened the risk of arbitrary, disproportionate, and indefinite limitations on fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution of Thailand and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.43

Proposals gathered by the government-appointed NRC from consultations with government officials, security personnel, local residents from ethnic Malay Muslim and Buddhist communities, religious leaders, politicians, business leaders, and civil society groups in the southern border provinces have never been implemented. Thaksin said suggestions for martial law to be lifted, the dispatch of police and soldiers to the region to be slowed down, and the investigation and transfer of government officials and security personnel found responsible for abuses or involved in disputes with the local residents were biased against the authorities.44

When its term finished in March 2006, the NRC concluded that injustice at the hands of government officials and weaknesses in the judicial process were among the key factors underlying the conflict in the southern border provinces. The NRC proposed that the government deal decisively with government officials against whom abuse-of-power complaints have been substantiated.45 It said that the judicial process had to be enhanced and be based on truth, the rule of law, and accountability.46 However, on July 19, 2006, Anand admitted in a press conference that he no longer expected that Thaksin’s government would implement the NRC’s recommendations.47

1 The rise of military dictatorship in Thai politics defined national security in terms of maintenance of “nation, religion and monarchy” as “the essence of Thainess.” See Thongchai Winichakul, Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation (Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 1994).

2 “Patani” is the Malay spelling of the province. It refers to the Sultanate of Patani, which has been used by ethnic Malay Muslim separatist groups to express their aspiration for liberation and independence from the Thai state. “Pattani” is the official transliteration of the name used by Thai authorities.

3 For discussions on the history of separatism in the southern border provinces, see: Surin Pitsuwan, Islam and Malay Nationalism: A case study of the Malay Muslims of Southern Thailand (Bangkok: Thai Khadi Research Institute, 1985); Uthai Dulyakasem, "Muslim Malay in southern Thailand: Factors underlying the political revolt", in Lim Joo Jock and Vani S, eds., Armed Separatism in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Regional Strategic Studies Program, 1984), pp. 220-222; Thanet Aphornsuvan, "Origins of Malay-Muslim 'separatism' in southern Thailand", Asia Research Institute Working Paper No. 32 (Singapore: National University of Singapore, 2005); and Supara Janchitfa, Violence in the Mist (Bangkok: Kobfai, 2005), pp. 273-274.

4 Ponoh (also known as pondok) refers to an Islamic boarding school comprising groups of huts in which students live within the tok guru’s compound. There are around 400 ponoh in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat currently registered with the Education Ministry. Some include additional curriculum of secular subjects, while others focus only on Islamic studies. In addition, there are 127 unregistered ponoh, which do not receive government support and are not obliged to be under official supervision.

5 Aphornsuvan, "Origins of Malay-Muslim 'separatism' in southern Thailand," p. 7.

6 Chidchanok Rahimmula, “Crisis on the Southern Border” in Uthai Dulyakasem and Lertchai Sirichai (eds.), Knowledge and Conflict Resolution (Bangkok: The Asia Foundation, 2005), pp. 7-8. [ชิดชนก ราฮิมมูลา, “วิกฤติการณ์ชายแดนใต้” ใน อุทัย ดุลยเกษม และเลิศชาย ศิริชัย (บรรณาธิการ), ความรู้กับการแก้ปัญหาความขัดแย้ง (กรุงเทพฯ: มูลนิธิเอเชีย), 2548.]

7 In 1986 BNPP renamed itself the Islamic Liberation Front of Pattani (Barisan Islam Pembebasan Patani, BIPP).

8 The original BRN was established on March 13, 1960, but later split into three factions: “Congress,” “Coordinate,” and “Ulema” (clerics). Today “Congress” and “Ulema” are more or less defunct, while “Coordinate” has emerged as the main group involved in the current wave of violence in the southern border provinces.

9 Many militants operated in a grey zone of crime on the one hand, and Malay Muslim ethnic/religious consciousness on the other—which facilitated recruitment from criminal gangs for insurgent groups and vice versa. Human Rights Watch interview with Chidchanok Rahimmula, Pattani, July 5, 2006.

10 Ibid.

11 This policy was known as “ใต้ร่มเย็น,” which translates literally into “the South under a cool shade.”

12 "Terrorists asked to surrender in a month's time,” The Nation (Bangkok), January, 27 1998, p. 1.

13 Ornanong Noiwong, Political Integration Policies and Strategies of the Thai Government Towards the Malay-Muslims of Southernmost Thailand (1973-2000) (PhD dissertation, Northern Illinois University, 2001), pp. 149-150.

14 Rahimmula, “Crisis on the Southern Border,” pp. 24-25. [ชิดชนก ราฮิมมูลา, “วิกฤติการณ์ชายแดนใต้” หน้า 24-25.]

15 Noiwong, Political Integration Policies and Strategies of the Thai Government Towards the Malay-Muslims of Southernmost Thailand (1973-2000), p. 161.

16 Senate Committee on Armed Forces Presentation, Parliament Radio Broadcast (Thai), March 14, 2006.

17 Ibid.

18 Human Rights Watch interview with Gen. Panthep Puwanartnurak, former Commander of the Fourth Army Region, Bangkok, September 29, 2006.

19 Order of the Prime Minister’s Office No. 29/2546 (2003).

20 Human Rights Watch interview with Wasan Panich, national human rights commissioner, Bangkok, November 21, 2006.

21 Ibid.

22 Maj. Gen. Nanthadet Meksuwan, Secret Operations to Put Out Southern Fire (Bangkok: Ruam Duay Chuay Kan Publishing, 2006), pp. 35-36. [พล.ท.นันทเดช เมฆสวัสดิ์, ปฏิบัติการลับดับไฟใต้ (กรุงเทพฯ: สำนักพิมพ์ร่วมด้วยช่วยกัน), หน้า 35-36.]

23 Human Rights Watch interview with a BRN-C member, Narathiwat, July 25, 2006.

24 Rahimmula, “Crisis on the Southern Border,” pp. 29-31. [ชิดชนก ราฮิมมูลา, “วิกฤติการณ์ชายแดนใต้” หน้า 29-31.]

25 The Fourth Army Region, responsible for Thailand’s southern provinces, estimated that at least 50 people were involved in the raid. Weapons stolen were 366 M16 assault rifles, 24 pistols, seven rocket-propelled grenades, two M60 machine guns, and four rocket launchers. Thai News Agency Broadcast (Thai), January 6, 2004.

26 For detailed accounts of the raid, see Supalak Ganjanakhundee and Don Pathan, Peace on Fire (Bangkok: Nation Books, 2004), pp. 16-30. [สุภลักษณ์ กาญจนขุนดี และดอน ปาทาน, สันติภาพในเปลวเพลิง (กรุงเทพฯ: เนชั่นบุ๊คส์, 2547, หน้า 16-30.]

27 Ibid.

28 "Separatist Troubles: Bt1 M Reward Offered,” The Nation (Bangkok), January 7, 2004, (accessed January 7, 2004).

29 Ibid.

30 Human Rights Watch interviews with police officers in Yala and Narathiwat, September 4, 2004. 

31 Ibid.

32 Special national broadcast from Parliament Radio (Thai), March 18, 2004.

33 Human Rights Watch interview with Maropirin Ari, Narathiwat, February 18, 2004.

34 Human Rights Watch interview with Asae Manor, Narathiwat, May 25, 2004.

35 Letter submitted by Somchai Neelapaijit to the Senate, dated March 11, 2004 (copy on file with Human Rights Watch).

36 “Schools linked to attacks: PM,” The Nation (Bangkok), January 11, 2004, (accessed January 20, 2004).

37 “Muslim boycott born of a long history of distrust,” The Nation (Bangkok), February 10, 2004, (accessed February 11, 2004).

38 On April 28, 2004, more than 100 militants conducted 11 coordinated attacks on government buildings and security installations in Pattani, Yala, and Songkhla. The attacks culminated in a high-profile siege of the historic Krue Se mosque in Pattani. By 6 a.m. Thai security forces began to encircle the mosque. Countermanding Chavalit’s instructions to exhaust all means of negotiation, Gen. Panlop Pinmanee, deputy director of ISOC, ordered the mosque to be seized by force at 2 p.m. The resulting death toll included all 32 men hiding inside. In July 2004 the government-appointed commission of enquiry concluded that the tactic of laying siege to the mosque, surrounding it with security forces, in tandem with the use of negotiation with the militants, could have ultimately led to their surrender. However, to date the government has yet to initiate criminal investigations into the event. For details of the incident, see “Final Report of the government-appointed Independent Commission of Enquiry into the Facts about the Krue Se Mosque Case,” July 26, 2004.

39 On October 25, 2004, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the security forces violently dispersed unarmed demonstrators in front of Tak Bai district police station in Narathiwat, using water cannon, tear gas, batons, and live bullets. Seven protesters died from gunshot wounds to the head. Around 1,300 men were arrested and loaded into army trucks to be taken to Inkayuth Camp in Pattani for questioning—many were kicked and hit with batons and rifle butts as they lay face down on the ground waiting, with their hands tied behind their backs. They were then stacked in trucks up to five or six layers deep and prohibited from moving or making noise. When all the trucks had arrived at Inkayuth Camp, 78 detainees were found suffocated or crushed to death. For details of the incident, see “Final Report of the government-appointed Independent Fact-Finding Commission on the Fatal Incident in Tak Bai District, Narathiwat Province,” December 17, 2004.

40 Piyanart Srivalo, “Thais Are United on the South, Says Thaksin,” The Nation (Bangkok), December 3, 2004, (accessed December 3, 2004).

41 Piyanart Srivalo and Satien Wiriyapanpongsa, “Anand Slams Govt As Editors Up in Arms,” The Nation (Bangkok), July 19, 2005, (accessed July 20, 2004).

42 Special Broadcast on TV Channel 11 (Thai) televising the debate between the NRC chairman and Thaksin about the Executive Decree on Government Administration in Emergency Situations, July 18, 2005.

43 Letter from Human Rights Watch to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, “Emergency Decree Violates Thai Constitution and Laws,” August 4, 2005,

44 Piyanart Srivalo and Samacha Hunsara, “PM 'Backs Away' from Plan,” The Nation (Bangkok), April 10, 2004, (accessed April 10, 2004).

45 The Power of Reconciliation: Report of the National Reconciliation Commission, March 2006.

46 Ibid.

47 Press conference by NRC chairman Anand Panyarachun at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok, July 19, 2006.