Southern Thailand Violence Raises Fears of Insurgent Escalation

Attacks across Thailand’s southern border provinces have raised fears of an escalation in insurgent violence, even as the Thai government has stepped up security operations and reports progress in its efforts to hold peace talks.  Human-rights advocates are calling for an investigation into claims of torture against detainees, including a death in custody.

Outbreak of violence

The outbreak of violence in Thailand’s southern provinces of Yala and Pattani on Friday included the roadside bombing of a military patrol providing security for local school teachers, drive-by shootings and arson attacks.

The insurgency in the largely Muslim-populated region, in its 12th year, has claimed over 6,200 lives, defying official efforts to end the bloodshed.

Rights groups charge the Thai government is failing to adequately address the issues of human rights abuses and ill-treatment of detainees.

A report this week by the Cross Cultural Foundation, a local rights group, charged that more than 50 detainees have been victims of abuse – including one who died in December.

Concerns about human rights

Thai authorities have dismissed the claims, saying the rights situation in the southern border provinces has improved.

But the foundation is calling for a full investigation into the allegations, saying that while just a few officials stand accused of ill treatment, the charges are creating fear and mistrust across the local communities.

12/02 – Ron Corben – (extrait)