It takes a nation to protect the nation
Media definition of "secret" = something we have steadfastly and consciously ignored for 10 years.
Just a few hours from tourist-packed beaches, a conflict is simmering that has claimed thousands of lives
Nisea Nisani was curled on a plastic mat outside the hospital’s intensive care unit. His wife lay on a bed inside, battling for her life after a bomb blast. There was some good news, said Mr Nisani, his eyes red and raw; although shrapnel had fractured both her legs, pierced a lung and torn into her diaphragm, his wife’s doctors were hoping to transfer her to another ward. At that point he would have to tell her that their nine-year-year-old son, Nisofin – their only child – had not survived.
“We’ve not yet told her,” said Mr Nisani, wiping his eyes with a towel. “We thought it might damage her heart.” Mr Nisani’s wife and child, struck by a bomb blast last Thursday in the southern Thai city of Pattani, were the latest victims in an ugly, slow-simmering separatist insurgency that has transformed the region into a militarised zone.
While the casualty figures from most of the incidents of violence are low, the number of victims since 2004, when the insurgency restarted, has now crept past 5,000.
More remarkably, this little-noticed violence is playing out just a few hours drive from holiday resorts such as Krabi, packed with foreign tourists. This week, in what observers hope will be a breakthrough, Thai authorities are to hold their first openly-acknowleged talks with the most significant of a number of militant groups behind an insurgency dating back to the 1970s. Thai military officials will meet representatives of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinate (BRN-C) in Kuala Lumpur. “It’s a big step for the Thai government,” said a national security adviser to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, asking not to be identified. “It’s a huge political risk. But we want to get this it sorted out once and for all.”
The insurgency in Thailand’s deep south is rooted in the fact that anywhere up to 90 per cent of the population of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla are ethnic Malay Muslims, rather than Theravada Buddhists. Three of the provinces once formed the independent Sultanate of Pattani, which was annexed only in 1909.
The separatists say they are trying to protect customs, language and religious rights. Despite attempts by al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups establish a handle here, it remains an insurgency driven by ethnic demands for greater autonomy rather than religious ideology. The insurgents have taken their battle to the state using targeted assassinations and bombing campaigns. Alongside police and soldiers, many teachers and low-ranking officials have been killed. Amnesty International estimates two-thirds of victims are civilians.
Sapeing Sulong, who had eight children, was a deputy headman in Suannok, a quiet village 15 miles from Pattani. Ten days ago, he was driving to the house of the second of his two wives when gunmen armed with an AK-47 rifle and a shotgun opened fire. Struck several times, Mr Sulong leapt from the vehicle and lay in the foliage by the edge of the lane, seeping blood. “This is where he hid,” pointed Mr Sulong’s step-brother, Lachit Singh, standing on a stretch of back-country road surrounded by rubber trees and paddy fields.
Local people heard the gunfire but were too afraid to move. “The doctors at the hospital said if he’d been brought in immediately, perhaps he would have lived,” said Mr Singh.
At Mr Sulong’s home, his family declined to speculate on who was responsible for the attack, apparently through fear. His boss, headman Ismail Leamo, said there had been no threats. “It makes no sense for us to say what happened to him,” he said.
But at the police station in the town of Kho Pho, where Mr Sulong’s bullet-ridden black Honda Accord was parked in a compound, officers had few doubts. “He worked for the government. Normally it’s the government officers who are targeted,” said a policeman who knew Mr Sulong but who asked not to be be named.
The Thai authorities have held a series of under-the-radar meetings with several insurgent groups since 2005 in Malaysia, Bahrain and elsewhere. Even now, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of the current premier, holds unofficial meetings with representatives.
Yet the talks have made little progress. The Thai government has often been distracted by domestic political turmoil, while doubting whether the figures they were meeting with had control over the actual fighters. The authorities appear to have been pushed again to the negotiating table by several factors, including a growing realisation among those involved that the BRN-C was the most significant of the groups.
Tony Davis, a Bangkok-based security analyst with IHS Jane’s, said the insurgents had also stepped up their attacks. In February, at least 16 insurgents were killed when they launched an assault upon a well-defended Thai marine base. “In the last few years the situation has deteriorated on the ground with the insurgents attacking with increased capacity. The flip-side is that it’s more difficult for the authorities to keep saying ‘we are on the right track’,” he said.
The Thai state has responded by amassing up to 70,000 police, soldiers and paramilitaries. Today, the landscape is filled with army bases and journeys are punctuated by check-points manned by heavily-armed troops. Those working for peace say they consider the talks a positive step but expect few immediate results. “We support the dialogue. We want it to be a long and continuous process,” said Soraya Jamjuree of the Women’s Civic Network for Peace.
It remains unclear what the government is willing to offer. During her election campaign in 2011, Ms Yingluck said she would consider greater autonomy for the south. Yet the national security adviser said at this point “nothing is on the table”. Once again, it is unclear whether those representing the insurgents have it in their power to halt the killings. Reports suggest many of the movement’s old guard are unhappy with the insurgents’ tactic of assassinating teachers.
Among those murdered was Cholatee Charanchol, a PE teacher at the Tangyong school on the outskirts of Narathiwat. On January 23, Mr Charanchol was overseeing lunch when two men approached him and shot him in the head. Mr Charanchol’s seven-year-old daughter was among the pupils who saw everything.
Mr Charanchol’s widow, Pausiah, said that in the days after the shooting, a psychologist had come to visit the little girl. They had moved her to another school but she was frightened her mother would be killed next.
“She is a strong girl,” Mrs Charanchol said quietly. “I try to stop her talking about it. I want her to forget it.”
Here's one of the reader comments on that "story". We seem to have truly arrived at a time when the casual readers know more than the journalists.
The so called insurgents target schools on a weekly and daily basis on the justification that the education system is biased towards a state dictated curriculum.
Accordingly Muslim teachers are as likely to lose their life and limbs as much as the children who are also blown to bits.
The so called annexation of Pattani in 1909 was in fact the restitution of Thai rule to lands that were in fact stolen from Thailand by Malaysia with British complicity and although there is a significant Muslim majority their ethnicity is certainly not Malay.
To offer any sympathy to the insurgents is inappropriate, they are abject cowards who perpetrate their violence on innocent civilians and are more akin to gangsters than freedom fighters.
Any idea that these people have a shred of credibility in their 'cause' is frankly farcical and offensive.
There are wider issues within the Muslim community, but this continuing violence has nothing to do with the majority of peaceful peoples grievances.
The murderers only bring disrepute and prejudice down on the law abiding and peace loving majority who would prefer to be rid of them.
Welcome to 4 Freedoms!
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Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them.
At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.
Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.
We need to capture this information before it is removed. The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.
We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.
These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper).
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).
An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone: