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“Next step of Inter-religions Council for Peace in Southern Thailand”

 

Inter-religions Council for Peace - Thailand (IRC-Thailand), established in May 16, 2009, hold a meeting in August 6-7, 2009 at Imnul-calldul Hall, Islamic College, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus.

 

 

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            In the first day of its meeting, the Council reviewed the objectives of the Council. Apart from strengthening relationship, trust and understanding among various religious people, the Council should put emphasis on nurturing peaceful coexistence in the southern border provinces and in Thai society at large. This included giving importance to religious education and to the application of religious principle as a driving force for sustainable social development. It was agreed to expand the work of the Council to cover all areas in southern border provinces affected by violence and other areas where peace activities could be organized according to the objectives of the Council, both at national and international levels. By this way, the Council’s activities sould be expanded to bring peace and promote good understanding between nations. Therefore, one of the Council’s activities by the end of this year will be to host a conference between IRC - Sri Lanka and IRC - Thailand to discuss and exchange opinions from their respective experiences, situations and lessons learnt in order to bring peace to our two societies. This conference will be an opportunity to introduce IRC - Thailand at national level and to communicate to the public on the issue of peace.  

           

             Operating budget of the Council will hopefully be supported by the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP). The Council agreed to ask for financial support for its activities from funding agencies in Thailand and abroad. The Council will apply for an affiliation with WCRP. Temporarily Mahidol University’s Research Center for Peace Building will serve as its secretariat. For the time being, the

Council will not seek to be registered as a foundation because it would like to keep its present flexibility.

 

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The Council aims to build a network of persons who are keen on resolving violent conflicts in relationship with religions. This should include leaders from various religions, youth, women, etc. who would together learn more about different faiths. Also the Council is planning to disseminate the concept of inter-religions for peace in book and other printing forms.

            Another important issue considered by the Council is about timely communication in order to reduce prejudice and misunderstanding among people when some groups attempt to use religions to create mistrust among people of different faiths. For example, whenever there are violent actacks on religious places or persons, IRC - Thailand will gather information from persons living in the affected areas in order to make prompt statement condemning such attacks. This can be another way to preempt the misuse of religion to fan further conflict and violence.         

            After the meeting on the first day, some Council members went to meet and discuss with monks and other people at Klong Sai Nai Temple, Moo 5, Yupo Sub-district, Muang District, Yala Province where a monk was recently killed when he went to collect alms. The Council delegation, comprising representatives from Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hindu and Sikh, gave their moral support and solidarity. After that, Ven. Samu Klong, abbot of Klong Sai Nai Temple, village headman and villagers told the delegation about the history of this Buddhist community and the violent situation and its effects. The villagers and the visitors also exchanged views on how to protect the community from violence.

 

 

 

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              The same delegation, on the next day, went to visit Muslim villagers at Alfugon Mosque, Ipayae village, Joe-I-rong district, Narathiwat Province. They met the Kotep, village headman, villagers, a group of widows whose husbands or family members were killed in an attack during prayer at the Mosque where 11 persons, including Imam lost their lives. Many vilagers spoke in local Melayu language from their heart to show their feeling. The discussion during the visit centered on the teachings of many religions in support of people who endure hardship and remain firm in expressing their faith. 

 

 

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aim of visiting these two communities was to “listen by hearts”, to go beyond religious differences and to send a signal of cooperation between religions that we will be united against any attacks on religious place or person. The delegation donated a small amount of money to these two communities as a token of our support. Security officials from Yala and Narathiwat special units accompanied us during the visits and we would like to thank them for their support.

 

            The emerging collaboration of religious leaders under the name of IRC - Thailand is a testimony of “devoted spirit” that prompts us to learn and understand each other. The discussion with people of different faiths during the visits took place in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We expressed to each other the respect to those who are different yet sharing the same mankind and the willingness to work cooperatively for peace.

 

 

 

        

  

     

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Research Center for Peace Building (Old) Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
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