Following a series of deadly assaults on Thai schoolteachers, international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an end to the attacks.
Last week, two Buddhist teachers were murdered by Islamist extremists in the middle of a school day in a southern Thai province. In the past month and a half, three other teachers have been killed by Malay Muslim rebels and at least one school has been set on fire--allegedly by insurgents.
“Insurgents in southern Thailand who execute teachers show utter depravity and disregard for humanity,” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said in a statement. “These attacks harm not only teachers and schools, but the Muslim students, their families, and the broader Muslim community the insurgents claim to represent.”
In the latest and one of the most brazen incidents, five heavily armed men entered Ban Ba Ngo School in Mayo district and took the two Thai Buddhist teachers away from the five Muslim teachers while they were eating lunch. One of the insurgents shot one of the teachers in the head execution-style and another teacher was shot in the same manner. The gunmen then escaped.
The five teachers who were questioned last week told authorities they believed the gunmen belonged to the Runda Kumpalan Kecil terrorist organization, comprised mainly of ethnic Malays, reported the Bangkok Post.
After last week’s assault, the Confederation of Teachers of Southern Border Provinces “unilaterally shut down 1,300 government-run schools,” according to HRW. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the army commander visited the southern border provinces, which are mainly Muslim, but “insurgents issued leaflets threatening to continue attacks on teachers.”
The schools in Thailand’s southernmost provinces were opened on Monday, reported the Pattaya Mail newspaper. There were reportedly more police and military officers at some of the schools.
According to HRW, at least 157 teachers and school personnel have died in the three southern Thai provinces since January 2004, when an Islamist insurgency erupted. The ethnic Malay Patani Freedom Fighters have been accused of the murders.
“Teachers are courageously risking their lives to ensure children’s access to education in southern Thailand,” Adams added. “But the government is still stuck in a cycle of ineffectual responses to the deadly threats teachers and students are facing every day.”
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