Thai language. As a result they experience extortion, threats, arbitrary detention, deportation, beatings, rape, killings and disappearances at the hands of officials, people smugglers and employers. Those entering Thailand via the services of agents, or people smugglers, are vulnerable as a result of illegal relationships the smuggler has established with local officials, which sometimes go wrong. Migrants and refugees, who have represented their communities’ demands for rights, have found themselves targeted and sometimes killed as a result of their activism. Like all regions of Thailand, western Thailand has employed anti-drug policies. Drug use and trafficking has been particularly targeted in provinces, such as Tak, which share a border with Myanmar. This has resulted in the extrajudicial execution of individuals, including those with no association with the drug trade. In October 2010, the Thai Government approved a plan to establish the Mae Sot – Myawaddy Special Economic Zone as an attempt to address some of the ongoing security and migration issues along the shared border. Southern Thailand is made up of 14 provinces and several share a border with Malaysia. This report focuses on the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. Historically these provinces were part of British Malaya, but were annexed to Thailand in 1909. Today, 80% of the population of these three provinces is Muslim; they prefer to speak Malay and identify as Muslim Malay. Rubber tapping and production dominates the economy in southern Thailand. Over the past decade, economic growth in the region has been low. Education indicators are also lower than national averages and Thai language proficiency is extremely low. Academic, Duncan McCargo,4 characterizes the Siamese occupation of Patani Darussalam as a form of colonization in which Bangkok pursued a policy of assimilation and standardization, making few concessions to the distinctive history and character of the region. Like the rest of Thailand, the Southern border provinces were administered by the highly centralized government in Bangkok. The region has a long tradition of resistance to the rule of Bangkok. Under the Prem Tinsulanond government (198088), an agreement was reached which ended the violence, granting amnesties to former militants, and setting up a new security and governance arrangement in the area, coordinated by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC). Though far from perfect, these policies pacified the violence for around two decades. During Prime Minister Thaksin’s first term (2001-5), the security situation in the Deep South deteriorated sharply. Thaksin dissolved the special administrative arrangements and placed the highly unpopular police force in charge of security in the Deep South. These politically motivated policy decisions coincided with a sharp rise in militancy and reemergence of violent resistance to the Thai state, which continues today. The Thai state’s response under all subsequent governments has been highly militarized including the deployment of large numbers of troops, establishment of village defence forces and the imposition of martial law and a state of emergency. This approach, combined with insurgent violence and intimidation, has resulted in a civilian population characterized by fear and plagued with human rights violations. Arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial killings and disappearances have all become common experiences in the south.
Part II. The international legal framework related to enforced disappearances
Duncan MaCargo, Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009).
Enforced Disappearances in Thailand