The Bangkok Post on September 30:

After taking up his post on Oct 1, 2007, Gen Anupong said the army’s top priorities would be to find a solution to the southern unrest and to maintain national security. After three years in the job, with the sounds of bombs still echoing in the South and in Bangkok, it is evident that he has been unsuccessful on both fronts.

Gen Anupong mobilised the army’s resources and personnel in his attempt to douse the flames of the southern conflict. Troops from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd armies were enlisted to help.

“Tackling the southern unrest takes time. It cannot be solved by a military approach alone,” he said. “I admit the problem has not been solved, but the situation is improving. The rate of violent incidents is declining.”

BP: Actually, just to examine whether the number of violent incidents is declining doesn’t seem to address the issue. It could be possible to have a reduction in the number of violent incidents, but more deaths.  The question that BP is asking is quite narrow and that is namely the violence is decreasing (One could argue that the violence is decreasing that the situation has not gotten better as a decrease in violence is because the insurgents control more territory and have no need to kill people. That is more difficult to quantify so will stick with statistics). For this purpose, BP is looking at whether the number of deaths and injuries is decreasing, which they are. Then BP will take a look at  statistics on the number and types of incidents to see if there is explanation from there.  

All these statistics come courtesy of Ajarn Srisompob of Deep South Watch, but if there are errors in converting the statistics into charts then those are errors by BP. BP should note that the below figures are not necessarily all insurgent violence. For example, in 2004 you will see large death tolls in April and October. This was not because the insurgents were killing more people, but the state was through the Kru Se and Tak Bai incidents. It has become difficult to discern between insurgent and non-insurgent violence as the insurgents do not leave calling cards. It is estimated that around 25-30 percent of the violence is non-insurgent, but the culture of impunity and violence can also be a contributing factor to an increase in non-insurgent violence so it is not as though insurgent and non-insurgent violence is unrelated.

Deaths

 deaths 2008-sep2010 

Alternatively, the complete figures from January 2004-September 2010 are below. Please click on this link to see the full-size version of the below chart:

deaths 2004-sep2010

In 2004, there were 881 deaths or 73.42 deaths a month (although this includes large numbers of non-insurgents in April and October)
In 2005, there were 601 deaths or 50.08 deaths a month
In 2006, there were 715 deaths or 59.58 deaths a month
In 2007, there were 836 deaths or 69.67 deaths a month
In 2008, there were 468 deaths or 39.00 deaths a month
In 2009, there were 567 deaths or 47.25 deaths a month
In 2010 (up until September), there were 322 deaths or 35.78 deaths a month

BP: While there has been an upward trend in the last couple of months, it is possible that 2010 will have the lowest death toll since 2003 so that is progress. Then again, we are just now returning to 2008 levels so does this count as an improvement?

Injuries

Injuries2008-sep2010

Alternatively, the complete figures from January 2004-September 2010 are below. Please click on this link to see the full-size version of the below chart:

Injuries2004-sep2010

In 2004, there were 773 injuries or 64.42 injuries a month
In 2005, there were 1,074 injuries or 89.50 injuries a month
In 2006, there were 1,198 injuries or 99.83 injuries a month
In 2007, there were 1,501 injuries or 125.08 injuries a month
In 2008, there were 819 injuries or 68.25 injuries a month
In 2009, there were 1,084 injuries or 90.33 injuries a month
In 2010 (up until September), there were 744 injuries or 82.67 injuries a month

BP: So far injuries are not as high as last year or even during the peak time of 2007, but they still have not approached their low of 2008. It is hard to say that the violence is decreasing based on the number of injuries although that depends on what year you are comparing it with. 

Overall, things are not getting better on the number of injuries although they are on the numbers of deaths albeit an upward trend in the last couple of months.

The second post will have details of the number of incidents and the types of incidents..