What we do

Thailand: Empowering Thai civil society organizations representing marginalized communities in the Southern Border Provinces

Thailand |

Duration: February 2016-January 2018

Location: Thailand (Southern Border Provinces including Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, plus the districts of Jana, Thepa, Saba Yoi, and Na Thawi in Songkhla province)

Minorities: Malay/Melayu-Muslim communities.

What is this programme about?

The programme is beng delivered in the marginalised southern provinces of Thailand, where the majority of the population belong to the ethnic Melayu-Muslim minority. Decades of conflict between the Thai state and ethnic Malay separatists in the region have resulted in tensions between Melayu-Muslims and ethnic Thai and Chinese communities.

Thailand’s government has exacerbated the conflict through decades of repressive policies that have aggressively promoted a narrow ‘Thai’ identity at the expense of local communities. Melayu-Muslim residents experience discrimination in areas such as language and religious education.

Our programme aims to contribute to peace-building and promote peaceful relaltionships between ethnic communities in the region. We aim to do this by empowering Thai civil society organizations (CSOs) representing marginalised communities to make their rights and demands heard. We want to increase participation of CSOs representing marginalised communities in peace-talks.

We also want to increase constructive dialogues between communities and between communities and decision-makers with peacebuilding objectives.

What are we doing?

Networking meetings and trainings for community-based organiszations representing marginalised groups in the south of Thailand.

These meetings aim to strengthen networks of these organizations to share information and promote united advocacy for issues of concern. Both majority Buddhist and minority Melayu-Muslim representatives will be invited. The training focuses on peace-building, advocacy and governance and accountability, as well as organizational leadership.

Public awareness and advocacy activities

In year 2 of the programme, we will convene a large interfaith community forum to target 1000 participants made up of CSOs, decision-makers working on peacebuilding and community representatives.

We have coordinated with the network of CSOs to make joint stakeholder submissions to Thailand’s Universal Periodic Review – this is a key opportunity for the local CSOSsrepresenting diverse communities to engage in united advocacy on issues of concern.

The project also involves awarding grants to community-based projects by local CSOs that work towards aims in areas such as: peacebuilding, social cohesion, reconciliation, legal work, mutual trust, gender inclusion, youth participation, governance and accountability and involvement in conflict resolution.

Who is delivering this programme?

MRG is implementing this project in partnership with People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF), which works to promote a wide range of human rights and human security issues throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia. PEF serves as a civil society network through which community-based partner organizations share knowledge, strategies, and resources to work together for positive social change.

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Photo: Malayu-Muslims in Patani, Thailand. Credit: Prachatai.