After political protests recently paralyzed Bangkok’s airports, Thailand continues to face political upheaval. Violence has also simmered in the south, where a Muslim insurgency has grown.
Muslims make up less than 5 percent of Thailand’s 63 million people and most live in the southernmost provinces. Ethnic and religious divisions have generated tension in this region, which was formerly part of Malaysia.
In 2004, Bangkok declared martial law in the south after violence erupted. Continued conflict — from bombings to shootings and beheadings — has since claimed more than 3,300 lives. Read more about the historical and political background to Thailand’s separatist movement and the situation of Malay Muslims here.
Worldfocus special correspondent Mark Litke and producer Ara Ayer report from Thailand.
Below, read what bloggers and commentators have said about Thailand’s struggles in the south.
John Virgoe of “OpenDemocracy” writes that the political situation in Bangkok is distracting Thailand’s leaders from the urgent need to find solutions to the southern insurgency.
Prashanth Parameswaran of “World Politics Review” writes that progress has been made, including implementation of more security checkpoints, but that the Thai government needs to address the needs of Malay Muslims and give them an enhanced role.
Blogger “gerrypopplestone” at “NowPublic” writes that Muslims in the region have been treated poorly, and that there have been a range of human rights abuses.
Photographer Masaru Goto posts images of “red zones” in southern Thailand where support for separatists is strong.
A foreign editor at “The Australian” writes an editorial claiming that although the insurgents in Thailand are not affiliated with al-Qaeda, they fit into a global pattern of Islamist insurgency.