Buddhist Groups’ Formation to Assert Their Voices in the Deep South Peace Process


  • Duanghathai Buranajaroenkij
  • Prakirati Satasut
  • Rakchart Suwan


          Political leverage can only be accomplished when people come together, and an example could be observed in a successful active mobilization among the local Muslim civil society in the South of Thailand resulting in enhanced bargaining power in negotiations with the state. With no end to the conflict in sight, Buddhist communities in turn feel the need to organize and prepare themselves for collective action. In 2017, the Buddhists mobilized to form the “Federation of Thai Buddhists in Southernmost Provinces,” an umbrella organization consisting of various local Buddhist groups. This article aims to examine the conditions and dynamics that made possible the organization of Buddhist activists in the southernmost provinces as well as the groups’ effort to include Buddhist voices in the peace process. We surveyed news from various types of media as well as conducting discussions and interviews with leaders and members of Buddhist groups, state officials (both civilian and military), Muslim leaders and activists. While bearing in mind the principles of nonviolence proposed by Gene Sharp and Adam Curle, this article seeks to understand the situation of Buddhist mobilization and Buddhist efforts to negotiate with state authorities. The article finds that the impetus for the formation of a collective Buddhist group comes from three sources; 1) intimidation and violence directed against Buddhists by the armed groups, 2) a sense of uncertainty stemming from the government’s handling of the conflict, and
3) perceived expansion of Muslim practices leading Buddhists to feel that there is no place for them. The Buddhist community’s response has taken the form of protest in public space and organization of groups and networks to assert their concerns to both the state authority and insurgents. Buddhist mobilization faces challenges: a) how to strengthen cohesion of the group,
b) how to create environment for peaceful coexistence between Buddhists and Muslims on the basis of cultural difference, given that the prolonged conflict has become a source of social division.


Ayae, N. (2010). Identity of Malayu Muslim in urban Yala. Journal of Liberal Arts Prince of Songkla University Hat Yai, 2(2), 91-106. [in Thai]

Bamrungrath, R. (2007, April 20). Supporting “Thai Buddhists” to have guns, be cautious of fueling the violence. Nation Weekly, 15(777), 18. [in Thai]

Bangkokbiznews. (2017, March 2). Cruel! parents and children of ‘Thongjan’ family shot, four dead. Bangkokbiznews. Retrieved from http://www.bangkokbiznews.com/news/detail/743064. [in Thai]

Cunningham, K. G. (2013). The determinants of civil war and nonviolent campaign in self-determination disputes. Journal of Peace Research, 50(3), 291-304.

Dudouet, V. (2013). Dynamics and factors of transition from armed struggle to nonviolent resistance. Journal of Peace Research, 50(3), 401-413.

Gurr, T.R. (1993). Minorities at risk: A global view of ethnopolitical conflicts. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press.

Hiyamisa, S. and DSJ. (2014, January 23). Buddhist network in the Southern border provinces beginning to take shape, peace beginning to take form amidst violence. Prachatai. Retrieved from https://prachatai.com/journal/2014/01/51345. [in Thai]

IHRP. (2016). Buddhism and majority-minority coexistence in Thailand. Nakorn Pathom: Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University. [in Thai]

IHRP. (2017a). Intra-Buddhist dialogue for majority-minority coexistence in Thailand. Nakorn Pathom: Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University. [in Thai]

IHRP. (2017b). Buddhist-Muslim dialogue for majority-minority coexistence in Thailand. Nakorn Pathom: Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University. [in Thai]

International Crisis Group. (2007a). Southern Thailand: The impact of the coup. Brussels: International Crisis Group.

International Crisis Group. (2007b). Southern Thailand: The problem with paramilitaries. Brussels: International Crisis Group.

Jensantikul, N. (2013). Social structure, role and public policy with the citizenship. Journal of Liberal Arts Prince of Songkla University Hat Yai, 5(1), 49-62. [in Thai]

Jindawan, K. (2007, April 14). Buddhist community in Yala forming an organization to fight against insurgency. NBT channel 11. Retrieved from https://wbns.oas.psu.ac.th/shownews.php?news_id=52043. [in Thai]

Jitpiromsri, S. (2016, April 28). Analysis on 19 issues of the Southern border situation when the status quo is changing. Retrieved from https://prachatai.com/journal/2016/04/65500. [in Thai]

Kummetha, T. (2015, October 3). Voices of minority within minority on solving problems in 3 southernmost provinces. Prachatai. Retrieved from https://prachatai.com/journal/2015/10/61702. [in Thai]

Lederach, J. P. (1996). Preparing for reace: Conflict transformation across culture. New York: Syracuse University Press.

Malay Mail Online. (2017). Shooting of eight-year-old boy shocks Thai South. Retrieved from http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/hundreds-march-in-protest-as-shooting-of-eight-year-old-boy-shocks-thai-sou#qgTzzHhZ3dvdzE4Z.97.

MGR Online. (2013, May 3). “Minority Buddhists” in Yala disseminate open letter condemning insurgents on killing 6 people. Retrieved from http://www2.manager.co.th/Dhamma/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9560000053080. [in Thai]

MGR Online. (2016, August 15). Ready! “Forward cabinet” by Article 44 to solve southern border problem, appointment of “special delegates of the government” equivalent to “Thai trader representatives”. Retrieved from http://www.manager.co.th/QOL/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9590000092958. [in Thai]

MGR Online. (2017a, March 5). Buddhist leaders in Yala submitted an additional proposal on conflict resolution to Deputy Secretary General of SBPAC. Retrieved from http://www.manager.co.th/QOL/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9600000022684. [in Thai]

MGR Online. (2017b, June 16). New project on “returning Buddhists to their homes-returning monks to their temples” in solving insecurity issue in the southern border provinces. Retrieved from http://www.manager.co.th/QOL/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9600000061585. [in Thai]

MGR Online. (2017c, July 18). ISOC holding a meeting with Buddhist groups to establish Buddhists’ Federation in the Southern border provinces. Retrieved from https://mgronline.com/South/detail/[in Thai]

MGR Online. (2017d, March 3). Buddhists in the southern border provinces gathering to demand for justice after daily insurgent violence. Retrieved from http://www.manager.co.th/QOL/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9600000022153. [in Thai]

MGR Online. (2017e, March 12). Hot Issue! Yala Rajabhat University students carrying a sign ‘May We Call Ourselves the People of Patani?’SPBAC Secretary-General Bhanu Called Agitation. Retrieved from https://www.isranews.org/content-page/67-south-slide/54518-buddhist-54518.html. [in Thai]

Ministry of Public Health. (2017). Service plan B.E. 2561-2565 Regional Health Center 12. Retrieved from http://www.sasuk12.com/index3.php. [in Thai]

Molnar, A.K. (2014). Women’s agency in the Malay Muslim communities of Southern Thailand. In Pranee Liamputtong (Ed.), Contemporary Socio-Cultural and Political Perspectives in Thailand. 345-362. Dordrecht: Springer.

Noochua, N. (2016). Dhammakaya temple and foundation provide rice and instant food to aid monks in the southern border provinces. TBCNews. Retrieved from https://tbcnews.org/2016/06/04/วัดและมูลนิธิธรรมกายมอ/. [in Thai]

RYT9. (2004, August 3). Population census in the southern border provinces. Retrieved from http://www.ryt9.com/s/cabt/1468%20(22. [in Thai]

Sawasdiwat, Th. M.R. (2017, June 18). Network of volunteer Dhammaduti monks in 5 southernmost provinces. Thairath Online. Retrieved from https://www.thairath.co.th/content/975623. [in Thai]

Secretariat of the Cabinet. (2014). National Peace and Order Maintaining Council (NPOMC) resolution on time expansion for the project on sending students with Islamic faith from the Southern border provinces to universities (phase 9) BE. 2557-2561. Retrieved from www.cabinet.soc.go.th/soc/Program2-3.jsp?top_serl=99309972. [in Thai]

Sharp, Gene. (2013). How non-violent struggle works. MA: The Albert Einstein Institution.

Siamrath Online. (2017, March 2). Buddhist network calling local Buddhists to gather at SBPAC tomorrow. Siamrath Online. Retrieved from http://www.siamrath.co.th/n/10658. [in Thai]

Suwan, R. (2016, March 23). Human dignity must be equal in the case of university admission quota system for Muslim students. Prachatai. Retrieved from https://prachatai.com/journal/2016/03/64804. [in Thai]

Thairath Online. (2017, March 3). Chair of a Buddhist network calling for the use of Article 44 in Deep South. Thairath Online. Retrieved from https://www.thairath.co.th/content/872795. [in Thai]




How to Cite

Buranajaroenkij, D., Satasut, P., & Suwan, R. (2019). Buddhist Groups’ Formation to Assert Their Voices in the Deep South Peace Process. Journal of Liberal Arts Prince of Songkla University, 11(1), 150–178. Retrieved from https://so03.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/journal-la/article/view/199907



Research Articles