By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BANGKOK, Thailand – A human rights organization is demanding that Muslim insurgents in Thailand stop the “sickening trend” of killing teachers. Since the separatist rebellion began in 2004 in Thailand’s three southern provinces, 115 teachers have been killed and more than 100 have been wounded. 200 schools have also been burned down.
Five teachers have been killed since a new school term began in May as a result of the recent escalation in violence in southern Thailand. Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch said, “[S]eparatist insurgents are increasingly attacking teachers, who they consider a symbol of government authority and Buddhist Thai culture. There is no excuse for such brutality”
On June 16, the insurgents shot a school teacher while she was riding her motorcycle from home to school. Earlier this month, the insurgents also attacked a truck transporting school teachers, and singled out and killed two Thai teachers.
Soldiers guarding the scene where teachers were killed (Source: Daily Mail Online)
Violence increased after 10 Muslims were killed in the June 8 mosque bombing in one of the southern provinces. Although Thai government has strongly denied the accusation, rumors have spread calling Thai authorities as the mastermind behind the mosque bombing.
The insurgents are fighting to create an independent Muslim state, because they distrust the predominantly Buddhist Thai authorities. This violence has led to more than 3,500 deaths since 2004 of both Buddhists and Muslims in Thailand. 36 civilians have been killed due to the insurgency so far in June.
“The attacks on teachers not only violate international law prohibitions against targeting civilians, but also threaten children’s basic right to education,” said Human Rights Watch.
The Group also asked the Thai authorities to hold those responsible in a lawful manner and to bolster security at schools. The government has promised to make schools safe and teachers secure at their workplace, but hundreds of teachers have requested that they be transferred from the region.
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Watch – Thailand: Insurgents Target Teachers in South – 18 June 2009
Mail Online – Three Buddhist teachers killed in Thai Muslim south – 11 June 2009
MSNBC – Thai rebels blasted for killing teachers – 19 June 2009