Deep South NGO says security operations in Songkhla might result in more violence

Activists from Thailand’s restive Deep South voiced concerns that the security measures in which a whole village was surrounded and villagers detained could lead to further violence after reported confrontations between security officers and alleged southern insurgents.

A confrontation between the security forces and about eight members of an alleged insurgent group reportedly started around Thursday noon in Saba Yoi District of Songkhla. The 20-minute skirmish left two police officers injured.

On Thursday night, after the village was surrounded for an hour, one suspected insurgent surrendered while another suspect, Mayako Late, who is accused of committing murder, reportedly fled the scene.

Khaosod reported on Friday morning that the security forces had arrested and detained four more suspects from the village.

From Thursday afternoon onwards, the authorities evicted villagers from their homes while searching for the suspected insurgents. Villagers from a nearby village reported that male villagers were detained at a local football field, while female villagers and children were detained at the village mosque. The villagers reportedly had no access to food and water. At press time, Prachatai was unable to check the latest situation of the villagers.

Tuweadaneeya Tuweameangea, the Director of the Academy of Patani Raya for Peace and Development (LEMPAR), on Thursday night issued a statement urging the security forces in the area to clarify the situation and maintain a framework of civilian protection after the incident.

The statement said the failure to do so might result in further violence which will hamper the peace-building process in the Deep South.    

In response to the operation, LEMPAR has the following demands:

  • Policy-makers in the security forces should investigate and urgently clarify the situation to the public.
  • If reports on the operation are true, security policy-makers should review the operations of security forces, especially on encirclement, searches and arrests of suspects on security charges, to ensure that they respect a framework of protecting civilians from the use of weapons within an international human rights framework. The villagers, especially children and elders, must be permitted to have proper meals.