The South Thailand Mosque massacre and our hope for peace

South Thailand’s predominantly Muslim population has suffered a severe blow with the death of 12 and many other injured at the mosque in the Cho Airing district on 8 June. This follows the death of over 3,500 since 2004 due daily violence committed by suspected separatists and the Thai military. It should be noted that the Thai military effectively occupies the southern provinces, enforcing law in a manner similar to methods used by the Israelis in Palestine, but with substantially less violence.

President Obama in his Cairo speech described the Palestinian situation as intolerable and unacceptable. The same can be said about the South Thailand Muslim situation. International and regional immediate and comprehensive action and intervention is necessary. The slaying of civilians is indeed prohibited in Islam, and as President Obama pointed out, the killing of one civilian is a partial death for all humanity, citing Al Quran.

This attack, and others like it, regardless of perpetrators, is unconsciousnable. It is more than that: it is immoral, and for Muslims to be slain while in the act of worship is an affrontery. Unfortunately, acts similar to this and random acts of violence by the Thai military are all too common today.

ABIM condemns these actions as illegal, not within the moral framework, and not intended to foster a resolution of wounds that date back to the annexation of Pattani in 1902. The wounds have deepened, and the current blood letting is only the result of separatists and a ruthless military. We call upon the people of Thailand, its government, the army, the civil society organizations and the people of Southern Thailand to work together to resolve these problems peacefully by consultations with each other. By so doing, future violence will be avoided and a final solution to demands for separate state resolved. This is the approach which would be followed by the current US President; he seeks to collaborate in resolution, not continue and exaggerate problems. Muslims and other religions can co-exist, but as he so earnestly pointed out, we must respect and communicate with each other.

We call upon the relevant parties, and the governments of Thailand and Malaysia which as late as this week have promised to work together to mitigate these problems. The Prime Minister of Thailand stated the key to peace and security is “justice and opportunity.” Malaysia, even though governed by the ASEAN non-intervention policy, has a strategic role to play.

Furthermore, we call upon the people of Malaysia to meet with speakers and others at a symposium and consultation in the immediate future to determine what assistance is needed of Malaysians to accomplish these roles.

Azril Mohd Amin

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