Thailand-Torture, Fear And Southern Distrust

The southern region of Thailand has always been inhabited by people who are of the Muslim faith unlike the majority of Bhuddist Thais. The nation’s new Interior Minister, Chalerm Yubamrung, recently floated the idea of granting semi-autonomy to the deep South in a clear break from past administrations who have resorted to war, terror and torture to break insurgencies in that area of the country. Over 3,000 lives have been lost since January, 2004 when a group of armed men raided a military camp and killed several soldiers.

A common complaint of Muslims is the use of torture against those who express anger toward the government. Aninudin Kaji, an Islamic teacher, described being beaten while in detention because someone had named him as an insurgent. Anantachai Thaiprathan, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, claims his group has uncovered at least 30 torture cases that took place in the deep South. He believes the use of torture against Muslim suspects has created anger and distrust of the national government.

A common complaint among Thai human rights groups is reliance on force rather than diplomacy and conciliation to win over the hearts of Muslim Thais. They need greater self autonomy and a more active participation in government. Torture is never the way to gain respect in the world.