Skip to comments.Buddhists fear for their safety (South Thailand)
Posted on 05/10/2004 6:26:38 PM PDT by JimSEA
Since the Krue Se Mosque siege, Chien Kullatham, a 77-year-old Buddhist, has become apprehensive about what may be in store for her and other members of the minority Thai-Buddhist community in the three southernmost provinces.
They live in fear.
Grandma Chien says that in all her 77 years she had never witnessed violence the likes of what occurred on April 28, when 106 young Muslim militants were killed, 32 of them in the famed mosque of Pattani.
Since the beginning of this year, the escalating violence has greatly affected the daily lives of Buddhists in her village.
``We fear being attacked by unidentified people, since they have killed monks and ordinary people too,'' Mrs Chien said. ``We dare not venture out of our homes at night to have dinner and chat with neighbours like we used to.''
Grocers in the village now shut shop earlier in the evening to prevent unexpected dangers.
Children who once played with each other outside their homes well into the night now go indoors in the evening.
``I was born and grew up here, I will not go anywhere else,'' Grandma Chien said.
Mrs Chien lives in Talad Bon village of Takae sub-district, Yaring district of Pattani. Her house and 20 other Buddhist homes sit among a hundred Muslim houses in the village.
Prissana Promdam, 32, a Thai Buddhist, lives with her family in the same village. She is also frightened of the violent situation because militants were attacking everyone, not only state officials.
``My children are still small, I don't want to die as yet because I don't know who will raise them,'' Mrs Prissana said.
She says she has to remain alert all the time, keeping an eye out for strangers. She cannot trust anyone because she does not know who will harm her.
Mrs Prissana says she does not point the finger at Muslims as being behind all the violence because in reality there were both bad and good people among them. She said the Muslims in her village were good neighbours.
``We have never quarrelled with one another. Thai-Buddhists go to the temple while Thai-Muslims go to the mosque in the village. We have never had any religious discrimination,'' she said.
Yupa Nualeiad, 38, a grocer in the village, said she wanted the situation to return to normal as quick as possible and wanted state authorities to bring all perpetrators to justice.
``I don't want to live in such a condition where people have to watch out for bandits around the clock,'' she said, adding that she now has to shut her shop at 7pm instead of midnight as before.
Some temples have already changed their schedules for funeral prayers from night time to evening and wedding ceremonies are now held in the daytime in most villages because people dared not venture out of their homes at night.
Phra Suthep Attipattho of Weruwan Temple in Muang district, Yala province, said he and other monks now left the temple to receive alms from Buddhists at 6am instead of 5am, following the murder of a novice and the attack on a monk from his temple a few months ago.
Twelve armed soldiers have been deployed to guard the temple and accompany the monks when they go out to receive alms.
Inspite of this the monk said, ``I have never thought of moving out of this temple. When it's time to die we cannot escape.''
It's their form of imperial conquest, and it works, unfortunately.
Muslims are, or seem to be, good neighbors up to the moment when jihad is declared. Then everything changes overnight. If they have to choose between a neighbor and their religion, they will choose religion. That's the kind of religion it is.