Deep south

Abby Seiff

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Photograph: Richard Humphries

Flip a page, and a stationmaster waves a train out of a station. Flip again, and a trio of men chat over milky tea. Flip, and a boy jumps from a bridge, arms stretched out to catch the waning sun, wind ballooning his red swimming trunks.

Even in the midst of a long, drawn-out conflict, a war zone doesn’t always resemble one, as Richard Humphries deftly captures in Kingdom’s Edge — a photo book documenting more than a decade of daily life in Thailand’s deep south.

It has been thirteen years since insurgency broke out in the deep south, and martial law was instituted in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and parts of Songkhla. Humphries — a British photojournalist based in Malaysia — has been photographing the area for nearly that long.

In those thirteen years, a slew of secretive, disjointed insurgent groups have carved a bloody path across the deep south. The Thai military, paramilitary, and vigilante groups have pushed back brutally and, at times, indiscriminately. Both sides have been accused of grave human rights violations. Since January 2004, more than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 12,000 wounded. At the height of the conflict, the daily death rate was on a par with Afghanistan’s. Today, upwards of 65,000 members of the security forces are posted to the region, which resembles, in some areas, an occupied territory.

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