Friday, February 8, 2013

Teachers Murdered in Southern Thai War for Independence

Nearly 160 teachers have been killed in Thailand’s deep south in its sectarian battle for independence, often in front of students, the Teacher Solidarity Website reports. In a recent incident, a principal and teacher were killed in front of 75 elementary school students. In December, teachers went on strike to demand better security.

The violence is part of a decades-long struggle for independence by the Malay-Muslim population in Thailand’s south. During the 1990s there was a lull in the violence, but it picked up again in 2001, with a new twist—the deliberate targeting of Buddhist teachers in government-run schools. Since the resumption of violence, more than 5,300 people have been killed in the conflict, with 160 of the victims being education workers, according to
Al-Jazeera. While most of the victims have been Buddhists, a Muslim primary school teacher was murdered last week in in front of staff and students.

According to Al-Jazeera, independence fighters known as "juwae" are behind much of the violence. Some speculate they have been recruited, trained, or organized at Islamic pondok schools. The juwae have been hostile to anyone connected to the Thai state, including educators and Buddhists, as the state has refused to make any significant compromises that challenge its fundamental pillars: Buddhism, Thai nationalism and monarchy—all of which influence the curricula in the schools.

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