Statement: The right to identity, culture and religion is a fundamental right Killings of religious leaders in the Southern Border Provinces to serve political interests must be condemned
On 3 March 2011, Mr. Jae-ali Jiyima, 54 years, an imam of Blukatuebu Mosque located in Moo 2, Tambon Pak Lor, Khok Pho District, Pattani, was killed. Then, on 5 March 2011, Phra Aphichai Rojransan, 28 years, a Buddhist monk of Sri Maha Pho, Khok Pho District, Pattani was also killed. The cycle of violence continues with no end. Each side vents their anger towards the other with acts of violence towards religious leaders. However none of the wrong doers have been brought to justice. Acts of violence continue despite the deployment of a large number of security personnel in the Deep South.
The targeted killing of local religious leaders is a strategy of perpetuating ethnic and religious strife. CrCF condemns the use of violence towards religious leaders and calls on all parties to stop such killings immediately.
In addition, we call on local people not to fall into the trap of the persons who would like to use these targeted killings to perpetuate ethnic and religious conflicts. The casualties of the two incidences also included one Muslim religious leader, a Buddhist monk and a sixteen years old novice. They are still being treated in the hospital for the grave injuries sustained by them. CrCF would like to convey our deepest condolences to the survivors of the two incidents.
The Pattani Sangha Administration issued a statement dated 10 March 2011 demanding their basic rights as Thai citizens. The Thai Buddhists are a minority in the three southern provinces, but they should be entitled to the right to life and want to see the perpetrators be brought to justice. They want the right to treatment and remedies when being victimized by the violence, the right to preserve their identity and religion, the right to life and to safety of life and properties including their residence and farmland.
Despite being a minority there, the Thai Buddhists should be accorded with the protection. Meanwhile, the Thai Muslims also duly demand the same rights. Thus, the state is obliged to exercise rule of law and its administrative power in order to make possible the protection of everyone’s human rights equally and without discrimination. Another human rights principle is public participation so that the people in the southern provinces have an opportunity to discuss how Thai people can live together in peace.
CrCF seconds the proposals made by the Pattani Sangha Administration and would like to demand support of activities and budget for the development of religious sites including Buddhist monasteries and to ensure that the Buddhists enjoy the same and equal rights to other people in the area.
Genuine efforts must be made to solve the problems and the state is obliged to promote respect of the practice and observation of Islam. In addition, the state must give importance to civil society sector and promote non-military strategies instead of armed violence.
Demilitarization and minimization of military operation is needed since they all represent the culture of violence. The schools and religious places should be demilitarized. Meanwhile, civil society and civilian roles must be promoted in order to bridge the gaps between the two ethnic groups and religions. More nonviolent activities that promote reconciliation must be supported and CrCF believes through such activities, peace in the Southern Border Provinces shall be soon restored.
For more information, please contact Mr. Somchai Hom-laor, CrCF’s President or Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, CrCF’s Director, phone 02-6934939