Buddhists and Muslims rally for peace together in South Thailand

Peace rally in South Thailand, photo by Nation Thailand.

In one South Thailand province plagued by violence, Buddhists and Muslims are overcoming religious differences to fight for peace. Buddhist and Muslim leaders conducted demonstrators in a rally for peace in Narathiwat province’s city district this morning.

Islamic leaders led prayers for peace. Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Federation of Buddhist Thais in Narathiwat led the demonstrators in shouting demands for peace. Others who joined the rally included school students and university students.

Nation Thailand reported that demonstrators held banners that read “Narathiwat people do not use violence,” “Please stop hurting Narathiwat,” and “We, Narathiwat people, do not want any kind of violence.”

This news comes after a car bomb explosion in Narathiwat killed a police officer last week. At least 20 more people were injured in the blast.

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The deceased was identified as Deputy Crime Suppression Inspector at Mueang Narathiwat Police Station Police Colonel Suthirak Longmai.

At the rally this morning, one secondary school student said…

“I feel sorry for the loss that happened with the police and people. Our school was damaged a lot too. I beg those who do it to stop hurting innocent people. Violence is not the solution to the problem.”

The roots of the Southern Thailand insurgency go far back in history.

Over 6,500 people died and almost 12,000 were injured between 2004 and 2015 in a formerly ethnic separatist insurgency, which has been taken over by hard-line jihadis and pitted them against both the Thai-speaking Buddhist minority and local Muslims who have a moderate approach or who support the Thai government.

But amidst the death and destruction, there have been signs of hope. Earlier this month, the southern province of Pattani welcomed its first female Muslim governor. The new governor of Pattani, 57 year old Pateemoh Sadeeyamu, is the former deputy governor of Narathiwat, and Yala provinces.

Several prominent people in the community hailed the appointment of Pateemoh as the governor of Pattani. One former lecturer at Prince of Songkhla University said that Pateemoh has extensive experience and a good understanding of the problems in the southern region. A women’s peace group in the region also celebrated.

It is hoped the people of South Thailand can come together and end sectarian violence.

South Thailand NewsThailand News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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