The government did little except to confirm that it will continue its peaceful policy but will also impose a curfew in the area.
Something has snapped though. In several provinces, peaceful demonstrations against the attack took place with some demanding that the government take stronger action against these people. Patience is beginning to reach breaking point and this does not bode well.
Surayud's problem - apart from the aging and inept government surrounding him - is that like troops in Iraq, he is up against a cowardly enemy he can't see. How can he use peaceful means with an invisible opponent? I'm also predicting right here that villagers will grow antagonised by a curfew and quite possibly they will be manipulated to use this as a reason for further skirmishes with authorities.
I'm stepping things up in this area. Like most Thais, I'm tired of seeing innocents slaughtered every day. The greatest excuse apologists make for them is that they are a corrupted few or they are fighting for restoration of historical justice.
Both arguments are starting to display their hollowness. First, the latest Muslim militant tactic has been to send hundreds of woman and children to protest for the release of any captured militants. At least one hundred woman and children for each protest! The gang that beat poor teacher Juling Kamphongmoon into a coma numbered at least one hundred. (I repeatedly mention this assault because its sheer brutality and evilness sums up the situation in the south so accurately.) Nearly every activity in the south smacks of gangs that number well above "a corrupted few".
As for historical injustice, that may be so but somehow I don't see justice in the eyes of men who shoot teachers in class, behead rubber farmers, behead a man in front of his nineteen year old daughter, kill a man leaving a note that reads: "You arrest innocent people so we murder one in revenge" or walk out and kill a van load of people. Do you?
Unlike many, I'm choosing to educate myself. I've nearly finished my study of the Islamic scriptures and what I have learned has changed my perception of the world. I'm planning to visit local mosques and discuss the situation with scholars and ask for their insight into problems that affect the entire world.
I have several questions I will be looking to ask from connected and knowledgeable people. I believe I have answers to some of them already but I will ask again:
(Obviously I won't go charging in with aggressive and impolite questions, but these are the ultimate answers I'm searching for)
- Why is there not clear and public condemnation of the attacks from prominent Thai Muslims?
- Why are villagers not turning in or exposing Muslim militants?
- What are the motives of the attackers? Do they have full knowledge of the history of the region? How often do they study and read Islamic scriptures?
- Why are the victims of the attacks almost exclusively Buddhists? (Its a pop fact to point out that as many Muslims have died in the area. This fact misleads, since the area is about eighty percent Muslim and the victims of specific attacks are nearly always Buddhist)
- Most importantly, how can we stop innocents dying?
I want to go into great depth here but I will wait until I have completed further studies. I will say this much: right now, I stand alarmed, shocked and scared about this situation. We seem to be competing with people whose rule book tells them to ruthlessly murder anyone who takes land they perceive to be their own. Morality, innocence and respect for life have no part to play for them.
Feel free to challenge, debate or question me on this.
Oh by the way, another man was shot in an unprovoked attack yesterday too. Guess that was just in case they hadn't made their point by removing enough woman and children from their husband and fathers yet.
On lighter notes:
Last week, I got the usual bus down a well known main road to return from one of my houses to the other. I noticed that the bus actually stopped well past the bus stop and forced me to run a bit. Nothing unusual there. As I tried to pull myself on, the bus tried to speed away and lose me. gain, nothing unusual there. Then as I sat down I noticed an unusual sign on the front of the bus "Lady Bus". I looked around , no I was OK, there were plenty of guys here! No, wait a minute..........they were girls dressed as guys. The bus I was on was a lesbian bus!!!!!!! They tried to lose me most likely because they didn't have the English to explain I couldn't get on and as my keen students will recall, no Thai expects any farang to understand Thai!!!
I'm not making this up. I got on a lesbian bus. If anyone else has experienced this please let me know.
We had a great little break in Cha-Am this week. The town is changing. With Pattaya sinking further into decadence, Cha-am is becoming more popular with "family" farangs. During the week it's easy to find a good value place near the beach. The area is cheap and the beach is OK, be prepared to fight off vendors every ten seconds though they are not too pushy.
The weekend is still the regular time spot for the Thai-Chinese invasion though.
On the way back, we got lost. We drove through minute villages and black country roads looking for Bangkok signs to no avail. No less than four times we stopped and asked for directions. Three times we were given misinformation. Thais are always keen to help their countrymen (and shotgun farangs!) but like many other nationalities, they would soon as give you false directions rather than admit they don't know!