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Thailand - One Year After the Coup -

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(generated from captions) in southern Thailand, Hello, I'm Karen Percy where, for the past 100 years, a battle against the government. Muslim separatists have been waging power in this country A year ago, a Muslim general seized and there was talk of reconciliation,

but across the kingdom, not just here in the south which had been polarised of Thaksin Shinawatra. by the big-money politics But progress has been limited Thais are just as divided now and today, as the day the tanks rolled in. SIRENS WAIL the military moved quickly. On a wet September night last year, in central Bangkok. Soldiers surrounded Government House

not to let anybody in or out. They were under orders But it was largely a symbolic move. out of the country. Prime Minister Thaksin was

General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, The coup leader, weren't seizing power for themselves. told the nation that he and his team peace and harmony. Instead, they wanted to restore but its first since 1991. It was Thailand's 19th coup,

this one was peaceful - Unlike previous military takeovers, not a shot was fired. for the 4 million people living Military rule was nothing new of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani. in the southern most provinces here since the beginning of 2004. There's been a state of emergency have died since then - More than 2,500 people the majority of them civilians. are Muslim and ethnic Malay. About 90% of the people here The rest are Buddhists. of the armed conflict. They're caught in the middle Surasak Pojpan was 10 years' old. When the coup took place, APPLAUSE he attends Yaring Elementary - A Buddhist, most of them Muslim. a school of about 1,200 students, have been murdered, In a region where many teachers this school has been spared. have not be been so lucky. But students like Surasak In the week after the coup, at the local hospital. his widowed father died with his aunt, Every day, when he leaves school he relives that fateful ride. The insurgents want a separate Muslim homeland, and, in recent years, have escalated their campaign to get it. Few people are spared. In December, this medical centre in Pattani province was torched by militants. Funded by the Thai government, it served the local Muslim population. Community medic Mahamad Korlae doesn't know why it was targeted. They made a mess, didn't they? With the change of power last year

came promises of a new way in the south. The head of the Armed Forces, and the coup leader - General Sonthi Boonyaratglin - is a Muslim. But if the junta thought that would solve the problems in the south it was mistaken. Since September last year, 2006, until this year, 2007, we continue to see the rise of brutal attacks against Buddhist Thais. Buddhist Thais were beheaded, were hacked to pieces and set on fire - father was shot in front of their wife and children. While the south has been a priority for the military government, the majority of Thais are more concerned about the economy. Growth has slowed because of a series of poor policy-decisions affecting investment. It has more than a few Thais wishing for the good old days of Thaksin Shinawatra. Despite a year out of the cut and thrust of Thai politics, Thaksin Shinawatra is still every bit the politician even in exile. As the new owner of the Manchester City Football Club, he's become an unlikely hero in this working-class town. They've taken to the man they call Sinatra. (Sings) # Come fly with me... # All I can say is that I am very thankful. The concert tonight is to express my sincere thanks to all of you.

CHEERING & APPLAUSE It might not be the soundest business decision he's ever made - spending $200 million to own the club and millions more on new talent - but it is a stroke of genius for a man keen to maintain a profile in soccer-mad Thailand, where the English Premier League has a huge following. Thaksin Shinawatra's deep pockets have caused Thailand's military junta more than a little angst. Are you surprised that Thaksin Shinawatra still has the kind of popularity in Thailand that he appears to have at the moment given what has come out in the past 12 months or thereabouts? I'm not surprised because he has a lot of money and money can talk. What message would you like to give to Thaksin Shinawatra right now? I would like to say that I would treat him fair and square. I'm not trying to push him into the corner. Thaksin Shinawatra and more than 100 of his Thai Rak Thai colleagues have been banned from politics for five years. The Kingdom's constitutional court also dissolved the party. (Speaks Thai) This man is leading what's being seen as the NEW Thai Rak Thai party. TV chef Samak Sundaravej

was recently voted head of the new People Power Party. A former minister and one-time governor of Bangkok, he's vowed to overturn the ruling against Mr Thaksin and Thai Rak Thai if he's elected. They cannot make a judgement something like that.

So, I disagree with what they have done. Now, they have tried to get rid of Kun Thaksin - the party in the first place - and even Kun Thaksin himself. The most likely contender to lead the country after an election is Abhisit Vejjajiva - the Oxford-educated head of the Democrats.

APPLAUSE He and his party also faced expulsion from politics, but the courts ruled in their favour. When General Sonthi Boonyaratglin first came into power last year, he was hailed that there might be some change in the south because he is Muslim. Do you think that has made any difference to the situation down there? Maybe a little bit, but not very much. It's makes our friends abroad understand that if you are Muslim in Thailand you have a chance to progress. This is something that we can say, "It has a good impact on the international front." But, at the local level, just minor change.

He, General Sonthi, is Muslim, yes, but he still represents the Thai state. He still represents what the separatists call infidel forces. In recent months, the military has made a large number of arrests in the south. In Pattani province, the alleged insurgents are brought here to Camp Engkayuth, where their families are allowed to visit. Local community leaders say innocent people are being caught up in aggressive campaigns by the government.

Critics worry that it will only lead to further radicalisation, particularly of young people. During our visit to the south, we were given access to a former insurgent, who joined the cause with friends when he was just 13 years' old. (Voice has been purposely distorted) He's 19 now and lives in hiding after faking his own death in December last year. Do you know how many people you killed, even as part of a team? And what would they say they knew you were still alive? He's in little doubt that others will pick up from where he left off. A year ago, General Surayud took over as Prime Minister. (All sing anthem) While the south remains a priority

in the few months he has left in office, General Surayud wants to improve Thailand's economic outlook and ensure that elections are held soon. It will be the decision of the Thais in order to select the new leader, the new government for our country. Do you regret having taken on this position? No. I think I'm doing the last job of my life for the country. General Surayud was hoping to step down after December's election, but there's talk that the poll will be delayed until next year. Some of his colleagues, however, seem to have taken to political life. Notably, the coup leader - General Sonthi Boonyaratglin - who's weighing up a new career in politics, despite concerns about his motives over the past year.