THEY CALL IT A 'CONFLICT ZONE'

The last few decades have shown minor separatist activity in Thailand's deep south. Up until the late 1700's, this part of Thailand belonged to the Malay Peninsula, sharing many cultural and religious similarities with their neighbouring country which has caused much uproar for some in Thailand, believing they are a threat to national security. Many feel that the violence which has escalated over the last decade is an attempt by a movement in Malaysia to make Thailand's Deep South, a part of Malaysia again. Terms such as 'Al-Qaeda' and 'terrorists,' have been used, labelling the Deep South as another entity all together, a part of Thailand which is in constant distress and conflict, with 'southern insurgents' governing them.


Made up of three provinces, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, the majority of the population in the Deep South are practicing Muslims. There are reports of casualties almost on a daily basis. For the last decade, articles have become an everyday occurrence for Thai newspapers, causing a numbing and perhaps distant relationship with the Deep South especially for larger city inhabitants.


Buddhist monks and non-Muslim teachers are killed on a regular basis. A tremendous amount of the army have been deployed to the Deep South, setting up check points every few kilometers. There has also been a formation of village based militants, a group of volunteers who work in military like shifts and style, carrying fire arms.


In spite of the region's danger, there is another life taking place, one which exudes normality. Weddings, after school beach socials and mall trips. The Prince of Songkla University in Pattani was also the first in the country to hold electronic systemised student elections. 


Cattleya Jaruthavee went to the Deep South to document everything other than the violence, paying close attention to the region's youth, a normality which feels almost like a sub-culture when put next to news reports on the region. The subjects were no different from young adults and teenagers anywhere else. A strong sense of youth pride, inter-racial friendships and like any other teen or twenty something, quite oblivious to the dangers present in society. They call it a 'Conflict Zone,' touches upon a life often not spoken of outside the region. The term Conflict Zone is a far fetched term felt by those living it.  

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