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JP Newsletter 2004 Issue 2 Takbai and Unrest in the South : Symbol of Violence Print

Takbai and Unrest in the South: Symbol of Violence

By Worapot Singha


Suppression of demonstration and control of demonstrators in front of a district police office of Takbai, Narathiwas Province on October 25, 2004, causing a death toll of 85 with several injured and missing, clearly demonstrates that Thai society has already entered the age of violence.

The improper policies based on violence of the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr. Thaksin Shinnawatra have favoured violence to recur in Thai society. The incident occurring at Takbai District clearly shows that Prime Minister Thaksin supports the government to opt for violence with an excuse that "the demonstrators started violence first", without telling society "what is a genuine reason for their demonstration".

In the past several years, Thai government has implemented several mistaken policies starting from its war against drug to killing of those who were believed to be involved in drug with a death toll of as high as 2,500, a mass killing in the South at Krue Se Mosque and at Takbai. These do not include killing of individuals and kidnapping occurring all across the country.

All the above mentioned examples indicate that the question of violence does not only occur solely in the South, but it means that Thai society as a whole has clearly entered the age of structural violence, and there is a trend that violence in Thai society will ever be worsening.

The incident at Takbai shows that the state has exercised its power and has not tried to seek non-violence means. The solution that is based on violence leads to violation of human rights and death of many people.
Operation of state officials at Takbai District is an inhumane action without consideration of human dignity, lack of respect to civil rights provided by the Constitution, use of torture in transferring demonstrators without caring what fate these demonstrators would be in.

Furthermore, the use of state media also indicates that the incidents at Takbai and in the South were adopted by those who did not have good intention for the country. The media presented the image of these people as aggressive and finally as separatists, which is necessary to be eliminated.

The government has projected hatred and nourished distrust in the hearts of Thai people around the country. It has expressed its opinions on Takbai incident in radio and TV programmes and the Internet. People who were not well informed have also shared their ideas and actively supported the government to introduce suppression by force and wanted to see more people die with the emotional state of extreme hatred.

The term "they" and "we" used to define these incidents is an indicator of division of people in the country. It is evident that the state is the important party adopting violence.

The violence at Takbai and other areas in Southern Thailand clearly indicate that in the past Thai State has implemented wrong and inadequate policies, leading to violence and death of many people. These incidents brought about loss and discredit in the eyes of world society. Thai people and Thailand are seen as a barbarian country using violence to resolve problems.

All countries in the world know full well that peaceful and armsless demonstration is a basic right of all civilians and it is a right provided by constitution. Yet, violence and loss recur endlessly in Thailand.

In case of Takbai, it is a closing of an opening of the government to a search for peaceful means. A hope to see a peaceful solution to problems in the South also seems to be far reaching. On the other end, mass media is irresponsible. It exaggerates news with a sole concern to sell news. It presents news that is released by the government. Mass media have never thought of going down to search for truth from villagers or local sources of information.

The government and mass media covering news on violence occurring at Takbai District from the government's source must be held responsible and should apologise people in the South. They should not be indifferent like nothing has happened as they are at present.

Finally, the incident at Takbai shows that at the end the use of force and violence could not resolve any problem. Violence has destroyed goodness in the heart of those to resort to it. It is dehumanising and leads Thai society to destruction and chaos.

In spite of the incident at Takbai and violence that continues to occur in the South present, all parties and individuals should try by all means to bring about peace and justice to the earth. International communities and Thai people must demand the Thai State to take steps to protect human rights, and not to violate basic human rights of all people in the country, regardless of their religion and culture. Nation can exist with collaboration, unity and harmony of all people, not division created by the state, which would lead but to violence.
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