A report stated that peace-building in the southern border provinces would be sustainable, if the root causes of conflicts were clearly visualized and if serious and sincere efforts were made to ease the grievances of local people; then it may be possible to wipe out the conditions that lead to violence.
The report was presented to a Senate committee by the Office for Peace and Governance, King Prajadhipok’s Institute, in January 2011. It said that if the root causes of conflicts were rectified, the power and reach of many of the influential groups that have taken advantage of the southern situation would be limited in scale and would finally disappear.
According to the report, during the past seven years, from 2004 to 2010, about 145 billion baht from the national budget was spent on tackling problems in the deep South, which experienced thousands of violent incidents, killing over 4,000 people and injuring more than 7,000.
The root causes of the conflicts are related to the concern that the local Muslim identity may disappear because of the mind-set and actions of some powerful state officials. More recently, however, officials at both executive and operation levels have adjusted their attitudes and put in place ways of easing the problems in line with the Prime Minister’s Office’s order in 2006 on peace-building in the southern border provinces and the National Security Policy for 2007-2011.
Greater emphasis has been placed on local culture and lifestyle and human rights, as seen from justice policies and economic and educational changes that take into account religious principles and the local way of life; additional improvements in the situation have come from the operations of the Fourth Army Area Command’s Internal Security Operation Command, Forward, which emphasizes the “politics-leading-military” approach. Moreover, organizational restructuring in the public sector has been introduced to create more unified operations and to open up greater opportunities for people to participate at the policy level.
The report stated that the solving of identity-based conflicts must attach importance to political and cultural approaches. Better understanding should be created between cultural groups, so that they live together in diversity on a sustainable basis. The peace talk process should also be promoted seriously and continuously with all groups that have different views from the state. The process is an initial step for creating an atmosphere conducive to easing conflicts through peaceful means.
Another recommendation is that the curriculum taught to children in public schools should be arranged in accordance with local culture, and the curriculum must appropriately integrate general education into the learning of religious principles. The Malay language should also be included in the curriculum, and local identity should be promoted. Doing so would show that Thai society accepts differences, and local residents would naturally feel more comfortable and be proud of being part of Thai society.