Ortho TriCyclen-LO


arrow Home arrow Articles arrow Viewpoints of Some Buddhists in Deep South Sunday, 25 October 2020  
Search this site
Login Form


Remember me
Password Reminder
No account yet? Create one


Viewpoints of Some Buddhists in Deep South PDF Print E-mail

Viewpoints of Some Buddhists in Deep South

                                      Gothom Arya


          Last time I went to Pattani and Narathiwat, the intention was to listen to the points of view of some Buddhists. From what I could gather, their views with respect to their Muslim fellows varied from mild hostility to sympathy. Many felt neglected in the current policy allegedly favouring Muslim. With respect to the presence of the military, many had warm feeling while others were skeptical as to their effectiveness in stopping violence. Many problems were identified but one that was mentioned by almost everyone is the problem of corruption and the involvement of the police in it.

          The first person I discussed with was a village headwoman. She thought that the insurgency problem has always been there, sometime dormant sometime virulent depending on the perception of injustice committed by the state and of corruption by officials. But of late, there was a worrisome tendency that some Muslim kids and even leaders started comparing and criticizing Buddhist practices. There were especially two areas where she would like to see improvement: education and community development. She was concerned about the education provided in Islamic schools where she thought children should learn more about how to live in harmony in a multiethnic society. She was instrumental in developing a community master plan based on self - sufficiency philosophy. This was done with the help of an NGO but she wished more governmental efforts in community development requesting more visits of officials to study community life instead of staying only in their offices. If officials, citing security concerns, refused to work at village level, villagers would be left to live in fear. In fact, police should do more in providing security but they usually performed reactively and belatedly.

          I then visited a widow whose husband was a soldier who quit the office in order to run a small gas station. He was killed on 7 February 2004 and the police investigation did not come up with any clear explanation to her as to the cause of the killing. However, she just received some money from state as compensation. In the meantime, the gas station has remained close since the pass-away of her husband and her daughter who just graduated from Yala Rajabhat University in Business Administration did not feel like taking over. She was looking for a job and found a temporary one for 5 months being offered by the Border Provinces Peace Building Command to unemployed youth. The scheme was well intended and of help to many but those who missed the opportunity criticized it as not being evenly distributed and in some cases just providing compensation without concrete work in return. Moreover, rumours were circulated that in some cases, the "job" consisted of allowing young women to chat with officials and as a result encouraging their misbehaviour. This shows that one good scheme may have loopholes that could be exploited to project its alleged negative aspects.

          The next person I visited is a semi-paralyzed mother whose son was arrested about two years ago. He is a Buddhist. He and his Muslim friend were accused of school arson. The case was pending for so long without any progress or the granting of bail. Only after a recent petition to the Ministry of Justice that the case is going to Court by mid-June.

On that day, I had a long conversation with a public school director. He thought that the conflict must be thoroughly analysed before a proper remedy be devised. According to him, there is no religious conflict as such but religion has been used to rally support to the cause of the insurgents. Religious arguments that are being used to support armed struggle are better left to religious scholars to develop and disseminate sound religious counter arguments. The conflict is more over ethnic identity. The perceived threat to their identity led to the latent sentiment, of many, for the autonomy or the independence of Pattani, to a greater or lesser degree. Only very few people would use or condone violence. However, the insurgents are exploiting the sentiment and pointing out at existing assimilation policies as well as past and present injustices. If this diagnosis is correct, then the remedy is to devise and implement policies aiming at integration that respects cultural diversity and provides justice.

I also talked to high-ranking military officers and also to students from various provinces who came to learn about the situation in the South.

Interestingly the next day, I visited two temples and listened to the abbots. One was a chief monk of the district and the other of the province. They offered contrasting views. While one seemed to be annoyed by the Muslim neighbours, the other enjoyed a good relationship with Muslims many of whom sought his assistance on a variety of issues ranging from using the premise of his temple to seeking his mediation on difficult cases. Both however pointed out at the pervasiveness of corruption and the necessity to improve the education system. To win over the youth was mentioned as an important tactic to reduce violence.

I learned a lot from my short visit and still want to learn more through listening to the people in the South.


Our neighbors
International Amnesty
Visitors: 1248281
Who's Online
We have 1 guest online
Research Center for Peace Building (Old) Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
999 Puthamonthon 4th Road, Salaya, Puthamonthon, Nakornpathom 73170 Thailand
Tel: +662 849 6072-5 Fax: +662 849 6075
Email: pewww@mahidol.ac.th