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Letter from Thailand Nov 13, 2004 (Personal correspondent)
Article published on 13 November 2004

by r-c.
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For about 10 years I have been traveling in Thailand there was some trouble in
the South (3 provinces with large Muslim population) with independantist groups
torching schools, railways stations or shooting at policemen and soldiers. But
never the situation had reached the current level.

Some months ago the governement has handled out weapons to some volunteers in
the countryside in order to fight the independantists if needed. Recently 6 of
them have reported that their arms had been stolen by the independentists. But
after an hearing by the police they said they had been threatened by the
independantists and compeled to give them their guns. So they have been charged
by the police for false statement and placed in custody. Then, on Monday October
25 there was a demonstration with about 3000 people surrounding the police
station and asking for their release. Then the incident occured. At least 6
persons have been shot and according to what is known today about 80
demonstrators died because they couln’t breathe when cramped and piled upon
each other, hands tied in their back, for hours in military trucks.
Since the incident, the violence is going on, with who knows who (they usually
escape, I have never heard about an arrest) killing (behading sometimes)
policemen, monks, workers...

I have never stayed for a long time in those provinces in the south and I
haven’t talked with the people there. But I have met some Thai muslims and
when i have asked them if they have any problems with their religion in
Thailand they told me they have no problem. i have never seen any example of
religious discrimination (nevertheless buddhism is the official religion and
the religious affiliation is written on the official documents). There is also
a christian minority and i have never heard of any complaint. But, whatever the
religion, the current governement doesn’t seem to care too much about human
rights and human life.

Patrice V.

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