Ongard Decha (01 September 2007)
During 18 – 22 July 2007, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet then from the Working Group on Justice for Peace spoke at the training session for NGOs working on ethnic and human rights issues in the North. She related her experience in the past year as part of the Working Group on Justice for Peace which has shed light on discrimination that still exists in the justice system there.
We believe that there is still discrimination in the justice system toward people living in the three border provinces in the South. Abuse of power and discrimination in law stem from an attitude that holds that these people are terrorists and secessionists. This is a myth that the Thai state clings to and people in the three Southern provinces are treated as if they were all attempting to secede. This attitude is similar to the one toward ethnic people who are perceived as the prime factor for deforestation and drug trafficking. Our brothers and sisters in the South are similarly viewed as secessionists.
We have to admit that there are certain groups which really want to secede. They are ready to use violence to create social breakdown in Thai society. And there are people who have been affected by violent actions, committed either by the state or by people in their community. The clash of secessionist groups and the right wing state has led to escalating violence in the South.
What I am going to tell is based on my one year of work in the South as then was a part of the Working Group on Justice for Peace which works to promote justice.