Around 5000 deaths and more than 8300 injuries are attributed to Thailand's ongoing "southern fire" (fai tai). A range of explanations for this violence in the southernmost provinces of Thailand have been offered by academics, journalists and other analysts. Terrorism, insurgency and gangsterism have all been introduced as labels for components of the violence. This article is motivated by the need to re-examine the empirical foundations of these explanations. We focus on two case study districts that illustrate some of the key trends, ambiguities and inconsistencies. We are particularly concerned to illuminate interactions between criminal violence, violence generated by personal disputes, and violence motivated by retribution. Based on the available evidence, our estimation is that a relatively modest proportion of the violence in Thailand's deep south over the past ten years can be directly linked to insurgent or terrorist activities. To conclude, we pose challenging questions about the nature of criminality, insurgency and politics not just in Thailand's deep south but in the country as a whole.
|Publication status||Published - 2012|