PATTANI — A network of women's rights advocates in Pattani province gathered today to mark the 11th anniversary of the deadly assault on a historic mosque, one of the bloodiest incidents in the separatist insurgency that has gripped the region since 2004.
Representatives of 21 organizations met at Park View Hotel in Pattani this morning to read a joint statement. The statement condemned the recent "cycle of violence" sparked by a military raid on a village in Thung Yang Daeng district that left four civilians dead last month. Following the raid, at least 30 retaliatory attacks have taken place in the region, killing 13 people, including nine women and children, the statement noted.
A network of women's rights advocates in Pattani mark the 11th anniversary of a massacre at Krue Se Mosque on 28 April 2015.
"When there is violence, no matter which side started it first, it always leads to retaliation and another cycle of violence," the statement read."It causes losses to lives and properties of civilians, especially vulnerable groups like women and children."
The secessionist movement, which has claimed the lives of more than 6,200 people, has been waged by a shadowy network of militant groups seeking to revive the independent Islamic state of Patani that was annexed by Thailand in early 20th century.
In their joint statement today, the women's groups listed four demands that they believe can help bring an end to the unrest in Thailand's three southern border provinces:
"1. Those who use weapons must cease their violence against civilians, especially women and children, and they must cease violent incidents in public areas, such as markets, schools, hospitals, and religious establishments, among others.
2. In order to prevent misunderstanding from escalating and feeding into cycle of violence, the state must be responsible in finding and presenting facts to the public in cases that terrorize public morale, including: the deaths of children and women, deaths of fighters for human rights, killings with cruel methods, massacre of families, and deaths that are believed to have been caused by state officials' excessive use of force.
3. The state must be committed to eradicating the culture of impunity by equally protecting the rights of the victims and the accused. It must also compensate victims without discrimination based on race, religion, or social status.
4. The people of all faiths must have restraint in the face of temptation from violent incidents, regardless of which side commits the acts, in order to prevent the cycle of violence from continuing. All forms of solution must uphold principles of peaceful methods, respect human dignity, and use dialogue to find solutions together."
The network includes groups like Thai Women Empowerment Funds, Buddhists for Peace Network, Network of Civic Women for Peace, and Narathiwat Muslimah Society.
After the press conference, the activists gathered at Krue Se Mosque in Pattani to commemorate the siege and assault of the historic building eleven years ago, which left 32 insurgents dead. The massacre is considered one of the earliest and bloodiest incidents in the insurgency, which broke out in the southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat in 2004.
Gen. Pallop Pinmanee (far right) inspecting the mosque after the deadly assault, 28 April 2004
On the morning of 28 April 2004, dozens of young militants armed with machetes, knives, and wooden sticks attacked security checkpoints across the three border provinces in coordinated attack. The ambushes were quickly put down by superior-armed security officers. However, 32 militants stole weapons from a police checkpoint and barricaded themselves in the 300-year-old Krue Se mosque, prompting security officers to surround the building.
After a seven-hour siege, Gen. Pallop Pinmanee, commander of a local army unit, ordered troops to use maximum firepower – including rocket-propelled grenades – to retake the mosque. The operation killed all 32 insurgents, and devastated the historic building.
It later emerged that Gen. Pallop's command contradicted his superior commander's order to negotiate with the mosque defenders and find a peaceful solution. He was transferred from the Deep South region on that day, although he retained a position in a counter-insurgency agency and no legal action was taken against him.
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