A Buddhist monk from a well-known temple has suggested that the government should burn a mosque for every Buddhist monk killed in the restive Deep South.
Venerable Aphichat Promjan, chief lecturer monk at Benjamabophit Temple, a Bangkok temple under royal patronage, on Thursday, 29 October 2015, posted on Facebook the suggestion that state authorities should take radical measures to quell the violence in the Deep South.
The monk suggested that the Thai state should arm the Buddhist population in the Deep South as a measure to protect “defenseless” Buddhist monks and people in the area from being targeted by what he called “Malayu bandits.”
He added that for 10 years Buddhist people have fallen victim to violence in the Deep South and that Buddhist people should no longer have “mercy” for Malayu bandits because they have never been merciful to Buddhist people either.
The monk said further “If a [Buddhist] monk in the three southern border provinces dies from an explosion or being shot at the hands of the “Malayu bandits”, a mosque should be burned, starting from the northern part of Thailand southwards.”
Many people posted comments and Facebook stickers in support of the monk. However, many also posted comments against it.
One of the commentators wrote “I don’t think that this is the solution to the problem. On the contrary, it will exacerbate the problem. Please stay calm, many innocent people have already died. Be mindful.”
Many mainstream Thai media outlets have been the using the term “Malayu bandits” to refer to the insurgent groups in the three Deep Southern provinces of Thailand of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, an area where a protracted conflict between the Thai state and Muslim insurgent groups have led to thousands of deaths since 2004.
The statistics from Deep South Watch (DSW) for 2014 show that the number of Buddhists (including both ethnic Thai and non-ethnic Thai Buddhist civilians and officials) who were injured and killed in violent incidents was greater than the number of Muslims (ethnic Malay and non-ethnic Malay civilians and officials). Of the total number of 993 dead, 432, or 43.5 per cent, were Muslims. Buddhist casualties numbered 552, or 55.6 per cent. However, Buddhist and Muslim figures were not segregated into civilians and officials. (Insurgency incidents as defined by the DSW include deaths from car bombs, ambush attacks, attacks with or without weapons, encircling by vehicles, arson, and discovery of corpses.)