Rights academics and religious groups call for civilian protection in Deep South

A network of religious leaders and human rights academics in Southern Thailand has urged all parties to the conflict in the restive southern border provinces to abstain from violence against civilians and called on the Thai state to make the southern peace talks a national issue.

On 27 July 2015, a network of religious leaders mostly from Thailand’s Deep South, including the Council of Religious Relations of Thailand and Religions for Peace, and academics from the Institutes of Human Rights and Peace Studies of Mahidol University issued a joint statement calling on all parties to the conflict in the Deep South to come up with a framework to protect civilians.

The statement was issued after two people, a security officer and a Buddhist monk, were killed and six people injured in an explosion in Sai Buri District of the southern province of Pattani on Saturday morning, 25 July 2015.   

In the statement, the religious leaders said that the perpetration of violence in the name of religion is a violation of human rights and human dignity, and deflects from the path of lasting peace in the region.

The group’s joint statement urges leaders of all religions in the restive Deep South to use the religious teachings of their faiths to foster peace and harmony in all communities.

The group added that if the southern conflict is protracted, all parties involved in the violence should come up with Civilian Protection Measures to safeguard the lives of ordinary people who are not involved in the conflict.

In order to foster peace, the statement also suggests that the Thai government give higher priority to plans to hold peace talks with southern insurgent groups and make them a national issue.

The peace talks must be inclusive of all the parties to the conflict and no party should create conditions which would deter the course of peace, the group added.

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