Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Thailand

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 22 December 2005
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2006 - Thailand, 22 December 2005, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Lack of citizenship is a particular problem for many ethnic minorities in the north. The government has undertaken registration schemes but statelessness continues to restrict access for a significant number to education, employment and health care and renders them vulnerable to exploitation. Women and girls from minorities are especially vulnerable to trafficking. More than 2 million Burmese have crossed the border into Thailand where they seek a living as undocumented migrants. They are vulnerable to exploitation by employers and deportation to Burma by the authorities. Many migrant workers, particularly from Burma, were not provided with humanitarian assistance following the tsunami of 2004 because of their lack of legal status in Thailand.

The majority of people living in the south are Muslims who want to break away from the Buddhist-majority Thai state and create an Islamic state. This has been the case for more than 50 years, but in 2004 separatists started a bombing campaign and this, in turn, has led to a state of emergency being declared. Troops have poured into the region and the government has vowed to crush the separatists by military means if necessary. In the period April-August 2005, there were almost daily reports of killings of Buddhists and government officials. The Thaksin government does not appear to be willing to negotiate with the rebels and the military has repeatedly said that a military solution is possible.

The use of strong-arm tactics by the Thai state has reinforced the separatists' claim that the entire Muslim community is being repressed, and has helped them recruit more militants. The government blames Islamic schools for teaching radical Islam, and also blames Islamic radicals in Malaysia for helping the separatists. Unless Bangkok addresses the political grievances of the Muslims in the south, the problem will persist. A military solution is not possible.

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