Until the eighteenth century, the territory that is now Thailand was ruled by various groups including Malays, Khmer, Mon, Burmese, Ayutthaya, as well as Thais. The history of contemporary Thailand began in 1782 when the capital was established at Bangkok by the Thais under King Rama 1. Over the next century, borders were in flux and territory was lost and gained in conflicts and treaties with neighbors. For as long as 7 centuries Buddhism had been the primary religion and in 1782 became the state religion.
However, in the mid 1940’s in the south where some 80% of the population was composed of Muslims of Malay heritage the Muslims began to demand to be allowed to use Shari’a law, speak Malay languages, and practice their religion and ethnic culture freely. They also demanded self-rule.
Thus began the rise of violent Islam as the local Malay Muslims were all too often incited by outside international jihadist forces. This emergence of a violent Islamism as the principal ideology of the insurgency in southern Thailand has thus been viewed by many as a break with the tradition of its earlier moderation.
This difference in Thailand’s deep southern provinces, namely Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, has caused the death of nearly 5,000 people since 2004. They continue to fight to separate from the northern Buddhist Thai state, targeting Buddhist civilians, as well as Muslims working with the government. At the same time, Thai authorities are accused of arbitrarily detaining and torturing Muslims.
A recipe for violent conflict which has continued.