WRITTEN BY EDITOR KALAHAN DENG
Historically, Thailand is a nation that consists of many ethnic groups, religions, and other practices. In other words, Thailand is a melting pot of many from south, west, north, and eastern Asian nations. For example, the southern region of the Kingdom, consist of the Provinces of Satun, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. These provinces are known as being neglected by the government for many years due to unprecedented corruption among incompetent civilian and military officials. This had been further aggravated by the population’s ethnic make-up, predominately Thai Muslims, which had produced a major degree of lawlessness, more so than in the kingdom’s other regions, making it very difficult for the government to distinguish between criminal lawlessness and terrorist acts commissioned by domestic Thai terrorist or Muslim separatist groups. The practice of Islam is concentrated in Thailand’s southernmost provinces, where Muslims, predominately Malayan origin, were found. The remaining Muslims are Pakistani immigrants in the urban centres, ethnic Thai in the rural areas of the centre and a few Chinese Muslims in the far north-education and maintenance of their own cultural traditions were vital interests of these groups. The Islamic faith in Thailand, like Buddhism, had become integrated with many beliefs and practice not integral to Islam.
In the mid-1980’s, Thailand had more than 2000 mosques in 38 Thai provinces, with the largest number (434) in Narathiwat province. All but a very small number of mosques were associated with the Sunni branch of Islam. The remainder were of the Shia branch. Although the majority of the countries were ethnically Mala, the Muslims community also included the Thai Muslims, who were either hereditary Muslims, Muslims by intermarriage, or converts. Also in Thailand were Cham Muslims originally from Cambodia, West Asians, including Sunni and Shia, Tamils, Punjabis and Bengalis, Indonesians, especially Javanese, and Minangkabau. Thai-Malay or people of Malay ethnicity who have accepted many aspects of Thai language and culture, except Buddhism, and had intermarried with Thai, and Chinese Muslims, who were mostly Haw living in the north.
The 4 provinces area in the southern-most part of Thailand, which has populated mainly by Muslim Thais, had not been completely pacified. There were still some small groups of Islamic radicals which are still posing problems to the public safety in the south. There were 5 main Islamic insurgent groups that had appeared throughout the 20th century that contributed to the attacks in Thailand. One of these groups was known as Patani Malay National Revolutionary Front-Coordinate, or BRN-Coordinate. The second insurgent group was called National Liberation Front of Patani (BNPP). This group was considered the first organized arms resistance group.
The third insurgent group was called Patani United Liberation Organizations (PULO). Formed in 1968, by Tengku Bira Kotantila aka Kabir Abdul Rahman, PULO was the most active group in the 1970’s and 80’s. In the early 2000’s, it operated mainly from exile in Syria, where Tengku Bira lived, and Sweden, where its foreign affairs department was located. The fourth insurgent group was called the Islamic Mujahidin Movement of Patani (GMIP). Formed in 1995 by Afghanistan war veteran Nasoree Saesaeng, the group derived its name from an earlier, know inactive group, the Gerakan Mujahidin Patani (GMP). The last main insurgent group was called the United Front for there Independence of Patani which was known as “Bersatu” which means “united” in the Malay language.
It was formed in 1989 from 4 smaller groups: BRN-Congress, elements of PULO, the then GMP (which had become defunct), and Barisatu Islam Pembebsan Patani, the largely defunct Islamic Front for the Liberations of Patani. In Feburary 2000, security forces dealt a severe blow to the New Patani United Liberation Organization, a Muslim separatist group which they killed its leader Saarli Taloh-Meyaw.
As you have read the article with its various elements of Islamic insurgencies in the country, the Thai forces has been fighting a low-level Muslim insurgencies in the predominately Buddhist country’s south, but those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their heartland. The question is who was behind the recent bombing that killed at least 18 innocent people in central Bangkok on Monday August 17th, 2015? But there is one theory that I would emphasize which is, the perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism, because the incident happened in the heart of the tourism district. And there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast at the Erawan shrine at a major city-centre intersection.