Letter from Thailand Nov 13, 2004 (Personal correspondent)

Armed struggleGuerrillaThailandVICTOR, Patrice

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.