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JP Newsletter 2004 Issue 2 Interreligious Prayer Commemorates Pro-Democracy Martyrs Print


Interreligious Prayer Commemorates Pro-Democracy Martyrs


A Buddhist monk and a Catholic nun who took part in a commemoration of a struggle for democracy 31 years urged fellow Thais to follow the example of people who united to build a better society.The courage of those who stood up then for a just, free and democratic society, especially those killed on Oct. 14, 1973, should inspire Thai people to social involvement today, Ursuline Sister Maliwan Chamrastarangkoon said during an interreligious prayer service to commemorate the incident. Buddhist, Christian and Muslim representatives, relatives of those who lost their lives and government officials were among about 300 people who attended the commemoration at the Oct. 14 Monument in Bangkok.



Buddhist Venerable Phaisal Visalo from Sukhato Temple in the north-central province of Chaiyaphum called the Oct. 14 event and subsequent democracy movements a "cultural revolution" of people who aspired to enjoy basic rights and freedom in a peaceful society."After 31 years, we have a constitution that guarantees the rights and liberty of the people, who can participate in local and national government," the monk noted. However, current reality does not reflect this, he said. The government's populist policies seem to deny people's "participation" and look only at economic growth statistics as an indicator of development. He suggested Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra "open his heart" to include cultural, moral and environmental concerns, and listen to criticism and opinions from others who want to voice matters that affect their life.

In a democratic society, the public must also open their eyes and ears to accept the thinking and lifestyle of others, the monk added. They must be sympathetic to the suffering, happiness and dreams of people whose religion, language and culture many be different from their own, Venerable Phaisal said. Also attending the commemoration were Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaiseng, who was one of the demonstrators 31 years ago, and newly elected Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayothin. Ursuline nuns and members of the Thai bishops' Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Commission for Ethnic People and Social Ongoing Formation office represented the Catholic Church.


Picture

1.Keynote address by Buddhist Venerable Phaisal Visalo from Sukhato Temple, Chaiyaphum Province.

2.The victims and the relatives of those who lost their lives.
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