A call for all parties to stop criminally offending the children, protecting their rights and for all children in the restive situation to be protected
At least two major incidences happened with children in November 2009. On 16 November, around 17.00, a school bus was hit by gunshots fired from a motorcycle on the road between Panare-Saban, Moo 4, Ban Hua Klong, Tambon Bannok, Panare district, Pattani. Three children from 12-18 years were injured including two boys who suffered two gun wounds on their limbs, and a 12-year-old-girl on her knees. They have been hospitalized and been safe. At the crime scene, four used 11mm bullets were found, but no culprits determined.
Another incidence took place on 8 November 2009, around 21.30. The assailants came by on a motorcycle and shot with heavy weapons including AK47 into a food stall near Phor Mong Pondok School in Moo 3, Tambon Phor Ming, Panare district, Pattani. The food stall was then crowded with students after the prayer. Phor Ming is also an ancient and famous pondok school in Pattani. Two students, 19 and 20 years old, were shot dead, and three students injured including two, 23 years and 19 years, who suffered from severe shots in their legs and abdomen and needed operations and an eight year old girl who was slightly injured. All of them have been hospitalized at the Panare Hospital and been safe. No reasons have been identified for the shootings against the students.
Though the victims shall receive treatment and are safe and they shall be entitled to compensation as persons affected from the unrest, it seems the shootings and use of heavy weapons has been taking place recklessly. It also shows how loose the security system is despite the presence of strong security personnel, but none of the culprits have been arrested and no lead identified. Eventually, it is possible that they might not be brought to justice. The incidences have compromised safety of all children in the Southern border provinces. A school which is supposed to free of any armed conflict has now turned into a battle field where both physical and psychological violence is waged against the children, teachers, families and communities.
Any threat against survival and rights of a child in a restive situation has to be addressed in order that she shall be free from any harm inflicted by whatever side during the armed conflicts. All parties must be working toward creating a safe environment for children when they are at home, in school and during their travelling.
In its Concluding Observations released on 17 March 2009, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in consideration of the report by Thailand as per the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/THA/CO/2), proposed in recommendation no. 28 that;
“The Committee urges the State party (Thailand in this case) to make every effort to reinforce protection of the right to life, survival and development of all children within the State party, particularly with respect to former child soldiers and to children in the southernmost provinces of the country, through targeted policies, programmes and services. The Committee also urges the State party to protect all children from the consequences of the civil unrest and to ensure their reintegration in society. It also urges the State party to develop, in collaboration with non-governmental and international organizations, a comprehensive system of psychosocial support and assistance for children affected by violence and conflict.”
The Cross Cultural Foundation condemns any individual or group which creates and abets violence against children in such a situation and demand that;
1) The state shall make all efforts in earnest to bring promptly the perpetrators to justice based on the rule of law. Careful review of the two incidences must be done to ensure that the perpetrators shall be arrested and face justice process regardless if the violence was committed as a result of the intention to create insurgency or other reasons. Psychological remedies and all assurances must be provided for the children, families and communities to instill trust in the operation of the state.
2) The state shall make attempts to instill awareness on the rights of the child to community leaders, army, police and civilian forces, both armed and unarmed, so that they have understanding about child rights, particularly the child rights as provided for by the Conventions to which Thailand is a signatory.
3) The state and civil society shall organize a series of activities for community leaders and education personnel as well as children in communities and educational institutes to make them aware of the importance of the protection of children.
4) The security agencies shall work to create a safe environment for children at all times and all places i.e., at home, in school and on the way to school during the armed conflict situation. For example, all military equipment, tanks, heavy weapons and military vehicles must be removed from any educational institute. Officers designated to provide guard and protection for the students and teachers should change their dress code to reduce the chance to become a target of attack by the insurgents.
For further information, contact:
Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Access to Justice and Legal Protection Project, Tel. 02-6934939