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Peace and Security

Southern Thailand Peace Initiative Launched

Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, Thailand - In response to the insurgency that began in southern Thailand in 2004, the Southern Thailand Peace Initiative was pioneered in Songkhla province April 4-8, 2008. This project was initiated by UPF-Thailand and the Unity in One Heart Organization with the support of Royal Thai Army and Thaksin University. Jakrin Iamsam-ang, Deputy Secretary General of UPF-Thailand, is the Project Director.

One hundred youth, volunteers and students from southern Thailand received education in peacebuilding, good character, and team dynamics. The experiential learning activities were designed to prepare them to be effective peacebuilders in their communities.

Welcoming remarks were presented by Mr. Montree Sangmusikanon, Vice President of Thaksin University, followed by Mr. Prayong Rattanapun, Deputy Governor of Songkla.

Prof. Dr. Pradit Chareonthaitawee, President of UPF-Thailand gave the Opening Remarks.

Major General Jumlong Khunsong, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the 15th Infantry Division, addressed the youth, inspiring them to continue with the good work for making peace and unity.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Boonsom Siribumrungsuk, President of Songkhla Nakarin University and Assistant Professor Pradit Meesuk, an Ambassador for Peace who is also a lecturer in same university, were part of the program.

The Opening Ceremony was broadcast on channel 5 television as well as the local radio station. The “Open the Sky in the Thailand South Border” TV program interviewed Dr. Pradit, who is well known for his work in human rights, giving him an opportunity to explain the South Thailand Peace Initiative to the public. 

Participants were taught the necessity for true love and living for the sake of others by drawing on positive experiences of working together as brothers and sisters. Presenters challenged them to engage in service to others and resist the temptations of illegal drugs and immoral activities. The "Discovering the Real Me" character education materials taught about making wise choices in relationships that will bring the greatest benefit to themselves, their families, and their communities.

Team-building activities helped break down barriers and build bridges of understanding between young people from different faiths. Participants gained interpersonal skills that will be a substantial foundation to facilitate a more lasting peace and sustainable development in Southern Thailand.

At the end of the project, UPF-Thailand presented scholarships to 41 teenagers who lost their parents due to recent violence. Participants were deeply moved by the peace education and loving atmosphere created during the camp and want to be part of UPF’s peace initiative as a peacebuilding corps in their community and in the southern provinces.  

Note: The separatist violence involves predominantly the Malay Pattani region, made up of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand: Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. The population here is rural and relatively poor in contrast to neighboring Malaysia, with whom they share language and culture. With people desperate for improvement in their economic circumstances, the violence increasingly has been spilling over into other Thai provinces. The death toll over the past four years is nearly 2,700.






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