2Bangkok exclusive: Conversation with a southern “bandit”

New 2Bangkok.com exclusive: Conversation with a southern separatist - September 16, 2006
Troubles in the South index page

Exclusive report from one of our sources in the deep south: A series of threats from a southern separatist.

September 13, 2006

At 10:22am on September 13, 2006 the separatist called my mobile phone. The conversation was in Yawi [the local Malayu language]. Here is the conversation:

Separatist: Are you the director of [withheld] school?

E: Yes, I am.

Separatist: Are you [withheld]?

E: Yes.

Separatist: Tell the Thai Buddhist teachers.

E: What?

Separatist: Watch themselves. If we are arrested or surrounded, we will shoot all of them. Let me talk to a Thai Buddhist teacher.

E: The Thai teachers are busy. They are practicing sports with students.

Separatist: Tell the Thai teachers… You must tell them. If you don’t tell, you will be harmed.

E: If you want me to tell, what's your name?

Separatist: You don’t have to know. I am the one who shot the officer at Bannangkuwae Bannangkuwae Mu 4, Thambon Bannangsatar, Amphur Bannangstar, Yala.

E: I was a teacher there.

Separatist: I am not Bannangkuwae resident. I come from the north. [This likely means the north of Amphur Bannangstar.] I am Yuwae. [A group that wants a  Pattani state.] You have to tell them because I know your house. You stay in [withheld], drive a [withheld] car, resister no. [withheld]. I know you and know teacher [withheld] and teacher [withheld].

E: O.k. I’ll tell them. But may I ask... are you Muslim?

Separatist: Yes, I am.

E: If you are Muslim. Does Muslim do like this? And why here?

Separatist: Muslim don’t kill Muslim. I kill Thai Buddhists... who corporate with officers.

E: O.k. I ‘ll tell them. So, that’s it?

Separatist: You must tell Thai Buddhists teachers.

While I was talking with the separatist:, the protecting teacher volunteer was there also. After the conversation, the volunteer called to the Deputy Sheriff of [withheld] who responsible all volunteers and I discussed with the rest of the volunteers in order to analyze the situation. Then I walked to the house of the education committee chairperson. His wife said he went to a meeting so I told her the story and went back to the school.

At 10:45 I called to the Sheriff of [withheld], he said he knew already and told me to check the original place of phone number. I checked [withheld]. The officer said it was the number of a canteen in a vocational education school in Yala.

At 11:20 The sheriff of [withheld] and police came to the school asking about the incident and have a meeting to make a new plan with more protecting teacher volunteers.

At 12:30 After teachers finished lunch, I asked them to have meeting and tell them my conversation with Separatist to the teachers and tell about the procedures of safety.

Mostly the teacher cannot accept with the incident. Some got sweaty , some were shivering. So I told them to be calm. For traveling from home to school, not to worry because the safety volunteers are a good safety system. But I am worried when people stay at home because if the Separatists target us it is dangerous for us. But it can happen to anyone, not us only. But we must not forget that in three southernmost provinces all areas are red. No matter if we move or not, it is not different… but I will not move, I will be here.

September 14, 2006

Today at 12:20 the same separatist called to the religious lecturer of [withheld] about what he talked to the "E" yesterday.

The separatist repeated what he talked about on the 13th and said this must be told to Thai teachers. He also asked if Thai Buddhists were there. The religious lecturer replied that the Thai teachers did not come today.

At 14:20 the separatist called the school again.

Separatist: Tell all Thai Buddhists teachers to resign and move from the area. At present we are pressured. We will kill all teachers from [withheld].

Religious lecturer: Umm...

Separatist: You say "yes." You must tell them. If you don’t, I will not guarantee of your safety. I will shoot you all.

Religious lecturer: I don’ t have power to decide. I will tell the director.

Separatist: Umm... Ok.

The separatist used phone number [withheld].

At 16:00 pm I was informed from the director of [withheld] that the separatist called and said “Watch yourself, I will shoot you to death.” The separatist called to teachers at [withheld - at least three more schools in the amphur].

September 15, 2006

Today the school is closed while authorities to decide how to handle this situation.
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