Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Village headman life in the deep south

Yesterday I discovered the website deepsouthwatch featuring independent news on the three southernmost Muslim provinces troubled by the insurgency since 2004. Most welcome is of course the English section of the site. I only checked the captions yesterday however, so it was via Bangkok Pundit that I became aware of an interview with a village headman (Phu Yai Ban) showing the depressing situation these official are working in.

Dee, the leader of Ban Salo (บ้านสโลว์) village, Village 7 of Rueso subdistrict, Rueso district, Narathiwat province, became village headman in 2007 after insurgents killed his father, who was the headman before. Aged just 28 he is probably one of the youngest headmen in the whole country, but has to work under a continuous threat of loosing his life.
It is well-known that being a village head man is one of the riskiest positions. You do not have to have any statistics to prove this statement. For Leader Dee’s case, he was attacked 4 times and survived. If he were a Buddhist, he would have called it a miracle or, he might pray a thousand times to his Buddha amulet hanging around his neck. But as a Muslim, he believes that this is a test from “Allah”.
Not surprisingly he is shown in the photos wearing a bullted proof vest, and His place was surrounded by sandbags and the curtain trees; it was similar to the military camps in the three southernmost provinces. But despite the martial look, he is doing his best to return peace into his small realm.
“It’s a mess. We don’t know what’s going on. The people who are in the middle become victims of the group that intended to use violence for their own benefits.” He concluded.

Because of these reasons, after Leader Dee announced officially to fight as the village headman, he also announced that he will decrease the number of violence in this village and will protect the life of every soldier that camped in this area.
I can only recommend to read the interview completely, it gives the conflict a face which in the news reports is only numbers of dead people.

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