25 October 2015
The recent bombing of the Erawan shrine in Bangkok has exposed serious security threats for Southeast Asian countries. It has highlighted the risks of illegal human trafficking, in this case in Asia’s Uighur community, and the rise of terrorist militancy.
In a classic case of hardline measures proving counter-productive, the Uighurs, who are an ethnic minority in China, have been increasingly using Southeast Asia as a transit zone in their bid to travel to Turkey to escape the Chinese Government. China has long been criticized for the curtailment of the Uighurs’ religious freedom, and the Uighurs say the hardline actions by authorities have driven their dissent and exodus.
The subsequent rise in the Uighurs’ presence in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, has led to their link-up with local separatist militants in the region with similar grievances. This movement was said to be the driver of the bombing in Bangkok — with allegations that the attack was revenge for the deportation of 109 Uighur Muslims back to China the month before.
It is vital that following this terrible incident we take stock to consider what we can learn from it. One observation backed by growing evidence is that soft measures have become equally, if not more important, than hard measures in addressing the region’s extremist activities.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 13/11/2015