Thailand

Thailand’s junta has relinquished military rule in favour of pseudo-democracy in which a pro-military party governs with a narrow parliamentary majority. There are no obvious near-term triggers for political turmoil in Thailand, but the country’s fundamental political and social divisions have not been bridged, and there is potential for future conflict. In the deep south, the Malay-Muslim separatist insurgency continues, while the dialogue process appears moribund. Crisis Group aims to reduce the risk of escalation in the south and limit medium-term threats to political stability by supporting strengthened democratic institutions and promoting substantive peace talks. 

CrisisWatch Thailand

Unchanged Situation

Pro-democracy activists charged with lèse-majesté went on hunger strike, while Malaysia announced new peace dialogue facilitator amid persistent violence in deep south.

Activists staged hunger strike calling for release of prisoners and revocation of lèse-majesté law. Pro-democracy activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong 16 Jan appeared in court to revoke their own bail; two women are charged with variety of crimes, including lèse-majesté, for conducting public opinion surveys about royal motorcades. Two activists 18 Jan commenced hunger strike while detained at Central Women’s Correctional Institution, demanding release on bail of other jailed activists and revocation of lèse-majesté and sedition laws, and were taken to hospital 20 Jan. Banners same day appeared at Thammasat and Chulalongkorn universities in capital Bangkok, criticising lèse-majesté law and calling on students to defend right to free speech. Hundreds 26 Jan gathered in candlelight vigil in support of two activists. Court in Chiang Rai province same day sentenced activist Mongkhon Thirakot to 28 years in prison for Facebook posts deemed insulting to monarchy.

Malaysia appointed new dialogue facilitator amid attacks in deep south. Malaysian govt 10 Jan announced appointment of former military chief Zulkifli Zainal Abidin as chief facilitator of peace dialogue between Thai govt and main separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), replacing Abdul Rahim Noor. Meanwhile, violence persisted in deep south. In Narathiwat province, militant IED attack followed by small arms fire 11 Jan targeted motorcycle-borne defence volunteers in Si Sakhon district, killing one and wounding two. Also in Si Sakhon, security forces 20 Jan killed three militants in gun battle.

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In The News

9 Oct 2022
There’s a sense of hopelessness [in Thailand] — that there’s no way to effect any kind of real change in the available political avenues. New York Times

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
12 Feb 2020
I think the reason [for the new talks in Thailand] is that [the Muslim separatists] recognize that the conflict is not going to end on the battlefield for them; it's goin... Voice of America

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
22 Jan 2020
As difficult as the [peace process in Thailand] has been up to this point, the most difficult work remains to be done. AFP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
10 Jun 2017
[The Barisan Revolusi Nasional sees its struggle as] nationalist and anti-colonial. Subordinating their struggle to a forlorn agenda imposed by outsiders would be counter... The Straits Times

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
28 Apr 2017
The militants [of the National Revolutionary Front] continue to demonstrate that they have the capabilities to launch attacks across the region despite of the security me... Voice of America

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
10 Apr 2017
[The main southern Thai insurgent group BRN] perceive the current (peace) process as one driven by Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur for their own interests. AFP

Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia

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Matthew Wheeler

Senior Analyst, South East Asia
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