In Search of Justice in Thailand's Deep South: Malay Muslim and Thai Buddhist Women's Narratives

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University of Virginia Press, 2022 - History - 151 pages

Since 2004, the violent conflict between Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims has caused more than 7,500 deaths and 13,000 injuries in the southern border provinces of Thailand. This will be the first collection published in English to give voice to those who have rebounded from these profound personal tragedies to demand justice and peace.

The ethnic and religious separatist insurgency in the southern provinces of Thailand is complex. Ninety to ninety-five percent of Thai citizens are Buddhists. In the southernmost provinces, however, Muslims are in the majority--yet they are governed by the Buddhist Thai capital in the north. In 2006 and 2014, the Thai government went through separate coups, resulting in differing policies to address this problem in the south, including a National Culture Act to promote "Thai-ness" throughout the country. In the south, this has resulted in a repressive and corrupt police force and military raids on Muslim villages, provoking the burning of schools and other symbols of Thai government, bombings, and even the killing of teachers and monks.

The narratives collected here, primarily from women, testify that although the violence has been generated from both sides of the Buddhist/Muslim divide, the actions undertaken by armed forces of the Thai Buddhist state--including repressive violence and torture--have served as a catalyst for increased Muslim insurgency. These contributions reveal the fundamental problem of how a minority people can fully belong within a state that has insisted on religious, cultural, and linguistic homogenization.

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