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The Inter-religious Council for Peace - Thailand (IRC-Thailand) PDF Print E-mail

CONCEPT PAPER


 The Inter-religious Council for Peace – Thailand (IRC-Thailand)


  Challenges The continued tension and violence in the southern border provinces of Thailand have resulted in the loss of over 3,500 lives since January 2004.  While the vast majority (more than 80%) of Thailand’s 64 million people is Buddhist, the largest religious minority (about 3-5%) is Muslim.  The Muslim minority is mainly clustered in the five southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwas, Satul and parts of Songkla where Muslims represent about 80% of the population. The current challenges and problems in the South have complex and inter-related causes including historical, economic, political, identity and cultural ones.  The problem is further compounded by other factors such as corruption, illegal trade, tendency of Buddhist and Muslim pupils to join different schools, conflict between villagers and local officials, mistrust between Muslims and security officials. While the current conflict in the South is not religious in essence, religious identity has been misused to fuel the conflict.

 Although the violent conflict mainly occurs in the South of Thailand, but conflict is ubiquitous. The process of democratization and the conflict over development approaches, natural resources, cultural diversity etc. are particularly challenging and often create tension if not direct confrontation.  

 

There are five religions that are officially recognized in Thailand namely Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikh. We believe that leaders of these religions can play significant roles in alleviating the cost of conflict not only in the South but also in Thai society in general. There is however an urgency for the South where religions have been misused to fuel the conflict. Religious leaders can certainly help create understanding and trust so that all religious believers shall be united in the common efforts of building a lasting peace.

 

 

 The Need for Inter-religious Cooperation for Peace and Its Instrument: the Inter-religious Council 

  In order to address the misuse of religion to divide peoples, different religious communities and their leaders must come together.  Multi-religious efforts can be more powerful - both symbolically and substantively - than the efforts of individual religious groups acting alone.  The cooperation among different religious communities for peace can transform discord into collaboration, harness commitments towards common goals and common action, develop partnerships with civil society and public sector, and create a greater voice and impact.  In its 40-year history, the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP/Religions for Peace), the world’s largest multi-religious organization accredited to the United Nations, has facilitated the building of mechanisms for multi-religious cooperation for peace called “Inter-religious Councils (IRC).”  

The IRC led by senior representatives of religious communities serves as the multi-religious voice of the country, offers the possibility of mediation, rejects extremist tendencies, and educates the public on the positive, socially transformative power of religions. Furthermore, the action of a particular IRC is supported by Religions for Peace’s global network of IRCs in 70 countries on six continents.    The IRC should be a representative, action-oriented and sustainable inter-religious structure, working at different levels, namely senior religious leadership level, mid-level religious practitioners and experts, and at the grassroots/community level.   In the case of Thailand and in view of the fact that the conflict and violence have been localized in the South, it deems appropriate to establish an Inter-religious Council for Peace – Thailand. Although its primary roles will be focused in the South – with activities in the South and nation-wide in order to promote a good understanding and compassion to the suffering occurring there – the Council will also work for religious harmony in the country.   

 

 The process to establish the Inter-religious Council for Peace – Thailand.  

 

On the 18th  and 19th of May, WCRP and Mahidol University’s Research Center for Peace Building (MURP) jointly organized an Inter- religious Conference at Pattani in the South of Thailand. It was attended by about 300 religious leaders from the South and the country at large. It was also graced by the presence of international religious leaders from the region. The Conference discussed about the role of religions in the promotion of peace in general and in the Southern Border Provinces in particular. In the second day, the concept of Inter-religious Council was discussed and agreed upon. A Council was subsequently inaugurated. 

 

 The Composition of the Inter-religious Council for Peace – Thailand.  

 

The composition of the Inter-religious Council for peace – Thailand is as follows:

 

1) Co-Chairperson:
  • Dr. Ismail Lutfi Japakiya, President of Yala Islamic University, Pattani
  •  Phra Rajvaracharn ,Provincial Head Abbot of the Dhammayutikanikaya
2) Co-Vice-chairperson:

Phra Kru Srichariyaporn, Deputy Head Abbot of Pattani Province
Mr. Vaedueramea Mamingji, Chairperson of Pattani Islamic Committee

 

 3) Treasurer:

Dr. Prawate Kidarn, Secretary General of Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) 

4) Secretariat:

  • Secretary: Dr. Parichart Suwanbhubha, Deputy Director of Research Center for Peace Building, Mahidol University
  • Deputy Secretary: Mr. Kiriya Langputeh, Acting Director of International Language Institute, Yala Islamic University

 

 5) Advisors:

·         There are 15 advisors who are religious leaders of the 5 officially recognized religions as well as senior officials in Southern Border Provinces

6) Nation-based Councilors:

·         There are 7 councilors who are nation-based religious leaders

7) Councilors from the South

·         There are 17 councilors who are religious leaders from 4 religions based in the South The names of the Councilors are provided in the Annex

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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
Tel: +662 849 6072-5 Fax: +662 849 6075
Email: pewww@mahidol.ac.th