Local officials in the restive Deep South of Thailand have banned civil society groups from hosting an event celebrating World Peace Day, despite having previously granted permission for the event.
On 21 September 2016, local administrative officials in the Deep South province of Pattani prohibited civil society workers from hosting an event celebrating World Peace Day at Krue Se Mosque, reported
Thai PBS. Krue Se Mosque was the scene of a bloody confrontation between Muslim insurgents and the Thai military in 2004.
According to Thai PBS, about 500 people gathered at the mosque to participate in a seminar titled “Peace in the Deep South + Peace in Pattani = Peace for Thailand and Peace for the World”. The event was hosted by the Network of Civil Society in Southern Thailand. However, at around noon, local officials from Tanyong Lulo Subdistrict Administrative Organization (SAO) visited the event and told organisers to halt activities.
Arifuen So, President of the Federation of Pattani Student and Youth (PERMAS) and one of the event’s organisers, said that he had been already granted permission from the SAO to host the event. Despite this, officials told him on 20 September to cancel it.
“Yesterday (20 September), a local official summoned me and said that he didn’t want this event to be hosted. The Deep South is currently in the process of peace-building but when people want to host public forums, authorities see them as threats to national security,” said Arifuen.
The event organisers then decided to read statements, before dissolving the gathering. But when Tuwaedaniya Tuwaemaengae, President of the local NGO LEMPAR, read a statement condemning the authorities’ order to dissolve the event, a local official interrupted and told him to end the event immediately.
“Real peace is peace with honour that connects to the people. If the state feels suspicious of the people, peace is just an illusion,” Tuwaedaniya read.
A local official (blue shirt) interrupts Tuwaedaniya (Photo from Noi Thamsathien's Facebook account)