Birth of Hope: A Friend from Pattani


My networks, buzzing with activity and the usual dose of opinions via the internet and among the people of the south. The exhaustion of four nights, chattering like mad squirrels and refusing to halt the momentum, took its effect on me.

Its this inflammation of senses, trying to get as much information as one could possibly can about the upcoming dialogues between the Thai government and ThaiSouth's Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN). BRN was founded in the 1960s, ethno-nationalist leaning on socialism. It's goal is simply to fight for an independent state of Pattani.

The Malaysian government facilitating the dialogue, as one of my contacts from Malaysia described "on neutral ground, in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity." Quite a proud statement coming from her, though I expected no less from officials of my country.

BRN is officially a separatist movement, though the acts of their agents and militant-arm, along with the other non-BRN extremists, in the troubled southern provinces of Thailand are not only distasteful but have stuck terror and bloodshed among the Muslim-majority community.

Yingluck and NajibYingluck Thailand

What do I think about the approaching discussions between the government and BRN? I tweeted something and received this reply. My answer to @bloimey was simple.

ThaiSouth

There's so much on my mind right now. I want peace for the people in ThaiSouth, such sentiments shared among many Thai Muslims in Bangkok and in the isolated plantations, villages and towns of the south. My concern at this point of time is how much influence does BRN have to convince their "troops" and sympathizers to abandon their ill-dose of Kafir (Unbeliever), Munafiq and heretic cleansing campaigns.

A 33-year-old friend, who hails from Pattani, offered me a cup of hot black coffee, perhaps because I had plagued him and our other companions with constant interruptions - my outrageous need for information - and he, and I suspect, they grew weary of a talkative, inquisitive Malaysian. There was very little attempt on their part to forecast the outcome of these dialogues, nor would they get any useful information from their elected MPs in the south. He said, passionately, with a hint of steel in his voice:
"If the elders of BRN and Yingluck are serious about peace, push aside their pride of knowing everything, then Insha'Allah, we will see peace. But at the same time, they can't be expected to do everything. Politicians from the Democrat Party who theoretically dominate the power in the south must stop preaching about what-happened-now and what-happened-then. Do you know many who talk loudly are not even there in the red zone! Its so easy for them to talk but they hide in the comforts of their offices or homes." 
Interrupting him came naturally to me, I'm notoriously known for that when I feel impatient or tense. I asked him:
"So you support Yingluck's government in this attempt at peace with these militants?"
My friend is a tall man, towering over me by almost two feet. He removes his white taqiyah (a short, rounded cap commonly used by Muslims) and sips the coffee from his tin cup, staring at the nearby chair; lost in the memories, perhaps, of his childhood and family in Pattani. Maybe. After all, he was as readable as a rock. After a moment, he looked at me and smiled.
"Yes Abang (elder brother), I do. I have iman (faith). I support because I want to continue believing in hope. I support because after what my people have gone through, we don't want killings."
I sat on the plastic stool that morning, smoking my kretek, partially watching him and the sky. There was no thunderstorm rolling out of the horizon. Bangkok was stirring, and the sun was eager to escape the skyline. Morning. A new beginning. A renewal of hope.



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