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Establishment of Inter-religions Council for Peace in Southern Thailand PDF Print E-mail

 

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World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP), an affiliated organization of  UN for more than 40 years, has supported Mahidol University’s Research Center for Peace Building (MURP) to help establish “the Inter-religions Council for Peace” in Thailand. Subsequently, MURP organized a conference on the theme of “the Roles of Religions for Peace in Southern Thailand” at CS Pattani Hotel, Pattani Province on 18-19 May 2009. This conference was co-organized by Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), World Fellowship of Buddhist (WFB), Religions for Peace of Thailand, Islamic Committee of Samutprakarn Province, Mahamakut Buddhist University, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalay University.

 

                                          

Ven. Tep Vong, Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia and Prof. Dr. Din Syamsuddin, President of Muhamaddiya, a famous Muslim organization in Indonesia, Conference’s guests of honor, express their support for the establishment of the Inter-religions Council of Peace in Southern Thailand.

 

                                         

            The conference began with the welcome address from Ven. Dhepwirapor, Dean Monk sect. 18. Then, there were prayers for peace led by religious leaders of Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hindu, and Sikh. Those religious leaders includes Ven. Teppariyattivimol , President of Mahamakut Buddhist University and others five monks, Dr. Ismail Lutfi Japakiya, President of Yala Islamic University, Bishop Joseph Chusak Sirisut, Mr. Sathit Kumarn, Bharma-Hindu Religion Organization of Thailand and Mr. Suthep Suriya-Amrith, representative of Sikh from Srigurusingh Council Association. After that, Mr. Pramuk Lamul, Deputy Governor of Pattani Province, gave welcome address on behalf of the local authority. Assoc. Prof. Saowanee Jitmuad, representative of organizing committee, read the message from Mr. Kyoichi Sugino, Director, Inter-religious Council Development and Field Coordination, Assistant Secretary General of WCRP.

 

 

The conference discussed about the causes of violence and conflict in the southern border provinces in religious and secular perspectives. The discussion was led by religious leaders, scholars, Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center’s representative, security officers, and NGOs representatives.                                       

 

The afternoon session began with small group dialogue. There were 229 participants including monks, laypersons, imams, and youths from the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani, Songkla and Bangkok as well as few foreign guests. These participants were divided into 15 small groups.

 

 

The small group discussion in the afternoon has created an opportunity for all participants who were Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Hindu and Sikh to engage in dialogue through ‘deep listening’. They exchanged their ideas in order to improve mutual understanding. The themes of the dialogue included challenges and suggestions on peace building process in southern border provinces.

 

In the past, many participants thought that it was impossible to have people from different faiths opened their hearts to talk and listen to one another. Some participants, especially those who belonged to minority goups in the three southern border provinces, used to say that it was useless to talk because their voices meant nothing to the others. However, the small group dialogue in that afternoon created the atmosphere of energetic discussion and cooperation among monks and Muslim leaders. This was the first step of trust building among people of different faiths to learn and correct their misunderstanding, and to work cooperatively in the future.

 

 

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After all discussion and presentation, some participants went to visit Wat Sai Khao and  Nujmuddin Mosque at Sai Kao Sub-district, Koke Poh District, Pattani Province. Sai Kao Sub-district was a role model of cooperative community and peaceful co-existence among Buddhists and Muslims. Here we saw the impressive relationship of Imam at the age of 84 and monks sitting together and walking hand in hand.

 

 The last day of the conference was opened to the opinions and suggestions from participants from diverse religions about how to bring peace back to their communities. The conference then endorsed in principle the establishment of the Inter-Religions Council for Peace in Southern Thailand.

 

In the afternoon, there was the meeting of those who agreed to set up the Inter-Religions Council for Peace in Southern Thailand. The meeting agreed that the objective of the Council was to enhance relationship, trust and understanding among people of all religions. This could be done by educating people on the teaching of their religion then encouraging them to practice and act in accordance with their faith. The meeting also offered ideas and creative suggestions about conflict resolution in order to reduce violence and build peace. The meeting expressed the confidence that the Council will be one of the crucial forces of sustainable development.

 

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The meeting agreed to appoint 1) Dr. Ismail Lutfi Japakiya, President of Islamic Yala University, as chairman, 2) Ven. Rajvarajarn, Dean of Dhammayuthika Sect. of Pattani, Yala, and Narathivat Provinces as co-chairman, 3) Mr.Weduramae Mamingji, Chairman of Pattani Islam Committee, as vice Chairman, 4) Ven. Srijariyakorn, Vice Dean of Pattani Sangha, as co-vice-chairman of Buddhism, 5) Dr. Pravate Kidarn, Secretary of CCA, as Council member and Treasurer, 6) Assist. Prof. Dr. Parichat Suwanbubbha, Deputy Director of MURP, as Council member and Secretary.   

 

                                               

 

            The establishment of the Inter-Religions Council for Peace in Southern Thailand is not just a symbol of cooperation among religions to bring peace back to society, but it also reveals the determination of people who desire to practice and act in accordance to the teachings of their religions in order to enhance trust and cooperation among different religions to resolve problems in Thailand.

 

 

 
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Research Center for Peace Building (Old) Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
999 Puthamonthon 4th Road, Salaya, Puthamonthon, Nakornpathom 73170 Thailand
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