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Buddhists in southern Thailand fear for their lives

Latest update : 2008-03-21

Buddhist families in the predominantly Muslim southern part of Thailand are fleeing en masse as the region descends into violence. The ones who refuse to leave fear for their lives. (Report: C.Payen)




Here is another face of Thailand, the south, which is majority Muslim. In the past five years, this region has been transformed into a war zone. Over 3,000 people have died, and the spectre of civil war looms.


“The army harasses the population constantly," said a local man. "When villagers try to buy halal food," he said, using the Arabic term frequently used for Islamically permissable food, "they are suspected of trying to feed the rebels.”


At the Thai-Malaysian border, we are caught in a stone-throwing incident.  Khun Sombun, a Thai Buddhist,  is the apparent target of the attack. “They want to pit Buddhists against Muslims by throwing these bombs (sic). Nine children have been injured. They want us to leave, but we have been here for 20 years," he said.


This is one of the last Buddhist families in the village. The others have fled, terrified by daily violence.


One of the young girls says, “I was playing; I heard a big sound, then I remember nothing. But I’m in pain.”


A century after being annexed by Thailand, the former Sultanate is ravaged by chaos. It now claims the highest number of violent incidents in the world after Iraq and Afghanistan.



Date created : 2008-03-20