Thailand Compensates Muslim Victims

In a practical step in the course of addressing their grievances, the military-backed Thai government agreed Tuesday, November 7, to compensate the families of Muslims killed in army custody, while the world's pan-Muslim body offered help to solve the co

Thailand Compensates Muslim Victims

"My clients are happy about today's outcome, which followed months of stalled negotiations with the previous government," lawyer Peerawat Praweenamai told Reuters.

In October 2004, police and soldiers shot dead seven Muslim protesters as they dispersed a rally in front of the police station in the Narathiwat town of Tak Bai, near the Malaysian border.

Another 78 were crushed or suffocated to death after they were stacked "like bricks", in the words of one survivor, in the back of trucks and transported to an army camp.

Families of the 78 victims have sued for compensation but the case saw little progress in a year-long court battle.

They would receive 42 million baht ($1.2 million) of the 107 million they had sued for, said Peerawat.

"They feel the government of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont is really trying to reconcile with the people after he made a public apology, which I think will convince people to be more cooperative with the state."

Marking a departure from the hardline stance of his ousted predecessor Thaksin Shinawatra, Surayud has apologized to Muslims for years of abuse and ignorance.

Admitting that as a former army chief he had failed to oppose the iron-fist policies of Thaksin, he pledged to root out corrupt and abusive officials in the Muslim south.

Thai Muslims, who make up five percent of the predominantly Buddhist kingdom's population, have long complained of discrimination in jobs and education.

"Surayud will visit the south Wednesday, his second visit in less than a week. (Reuters).

OIC Help

In a related development, the umbrella Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) reiterated Tuesday willingness to cooperate with the new government to resolve the unrest in the Muslim-majority south.

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu welcomed the new tendencies of the government in dealing with the situation.

"The secretary-general welcomed also the Prime Minister's confirmation of his government's willingness to solve the problem on the basis of negotiations, and the reconstitution of the Administrative Council of the Southern Provinces," the 57-member pan-Muslim body said in a statement.

It reaffirmed readiness to help in peace negotiations between the government and the representatives of Muslims in southern Thailand.

The OIC bid came as four people were shot dead in the south Tuesday in a fresh wave of violence.

At least six people were killed and nine wounded during a bloody weekend and thirty-five schools remained closed across Yala.

"Local security commanders have not decided when to reopen the schools," said Adinan Takbara, a regional education head in Yala.

"They were closed for the safety of the students and the teachers."

A Thai Muslim was named the first-ever governor of Yala on November 3.

The deadly attacks came one day ahead of a peace-building visit to the region by Premier Surayud, his second in less than a week.

The premier will meet university students and teachers in an effort to promote trust and reconciliation between Muslim locals and the authorities.

The southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were an independent Muslim sultanate until annexed officially a century ago.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16