Watch what happens now: the mainstream media and the Muslims in Thailand will claim victim status any and every time Buddhists defend themselves from jihad violence.
“Thailand’s Buddhists Take Up Arms Against Insurgency,” from Newsweek, April 16 (thanks to David):
A few hours” drive from the white-sand beaches of Phuket””one of the world’s top tourist destinations””a deadly insurgency is terrorizing Thailand’s south. The separatist movement, made up of mostly ethnic-Malay Muslims, roils the region with daily threats of sectarian violence and has prompted many Buddhist villagers, and even some monks, to take up arms in self-defense. A series of coordinated bombings across two provinces on March 31 alone left 14 dead and hundreds injured.
The conflict has been gaining steam over the past eight years, even as the international community pays little attention. Since 2004, drive-by shootings, IED bombings, and point-blank assassinations have claimed some 5,000 lives in the country”s three restive southernmost provinces that border Malaysia, making the insurgency one of the world’s deadliest.
The insurgent groups rally around the belief that the provinces””where ethnic Malay Muslims are the majority””should be independent of Thailand, where more than 90 percent of the rest of the population is Buddhist. The insurgents” preferred targets are Buddhists, especially those in the security forces or government, though they also kill fellow Muslims accused of not aligning with the separatist cause. They claim to have cells in 90 percent of southern villages; the boast, say security experts, is legitimate.
Even as a force of some 60,000 soldiers and police patrol the area, the insurgents have succeeded in spreading their network across the disputed territory, cultivating an atmosphere of perpetual insecurity for Buddhist communities living there. “First Muslim people came to our village and asked to buy our land,” says Suphorn Nison, a soft-spoken Buddhist in his mid-40s. “But they became less diplomatic when Buddhist people declined to leave.” The following month, Nison says, two men entered a convenience store operated by Nison’s father and executed him with two shots to his head. Nison claims the gunmen were Muslim and intended to send a stern message. Most Buddhists in his village left, but those who stayed, including Nison, formed a neighborhood-security force.
That was in 2006. Today such community-defense units are ubiquitous in Thailand’s south. Nison carries a revolver with him at all times. Many other Buddhists have also armed themselves, including a demure 38-year-old teacher, an acquaintance of Nison’s, who prefers a light Glock .22. While village-defense forces, or Chor Ror Bor, also operate in Muslim communities, they are often given fewer and inferior weapons than their Buddhist counterparts, and don’t receive the same level of support from the Thai Army and police, says Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit that studies ways to prevent conflicts….