Southern Widows tell their stories
Southern widows tell their stories
The Nation: 27-08-05
As the sound of guns and bombs rings out daily in the South, bereaved women from the area are making their voices heard in a book entitled : Cheewit Tee Longlue Kab Roiyim Lang Yardluad (Whats Left of Life and Smiles After the Bloodshed).
At their book launch at Bangkoks Royal Princess Hotel on Tuesday, 23 women and their children affected by the violence that has taken their men away explained their bitterness towards the insurgency that is tearing apart their society in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.
The audience was silent and in tears as the women, one after another, told their personal stories- stories never heard before.
From a small village in Yala, Fatimoh said the Krue Se Mosque incident on April 28 last year turned her peaceful Muslim community into a widow village. Nineteen men including Fatimohs father were killed on that day.
Fatimoh, the eldest daughter of the family, never returned to school and works instead on a rubber plantation with her mother. Their daily wages amount to Bt50, which is supposed to feed a family of seven.
Roemuelae from Mae-laan village in Pattani recalled that same day which took the lives of seven in her village. Five were killed at Mae Laan, two at Krue Se. I was praying when I heard the sound of gunshots in the village at dawn. I didnt know what was happening at the time, she said.
Romuelae lost four men in her large family: her husband, her elder brother and two brothers-in-law. Around 4pm, I was ordered to bring my ID card to show at a military camp to get their corpses back, she recalled. We buried their bodies in the same kubo (graveyard)
Sita struggled with tears as she told her story. My elder brother was head of the village, she said. He was called out of home to be consulted about a political issue. But he was shot dead, and then his dead body was brought to a hotel.
When she got to the hotel, she found his corpse covered with mud. Though there was evidence, the police havent paid attention to following up the case, she complained.
The media, she said, reported that her brother was an influential person and a pimp. For her family, his death was a big loss as her brother was the breadwinner. Our family is in debt and we dont know how to return to a normal life without him, Sita said.
Roesedah, the mother of five children, told about her life after a group of police came to her home to take away her husband. They said my husband was a rebel and involved in the violence.
Next morning, the police came back to search her house but found no evidence. They told her that they would bring her husband to Yala. But in fact they took him into detention in Bangkok. We have no lawyer to defend him, she said.
Roesedah said that without her husband, the sunshine in her life has gone. But our five children make me continue breathing. I have to take care of them, she said.
Her youngest child was only four months old when the father was arrested. The eldest daughter is studying at Prince of Songkhla University. She is able to continue her studies by borrowing money from an educational fund, Roesdah said.
Then Mae Na told her story. Her husband was arrested in February and brought to Bangkok. The police accused her husband of being an influential person.
Every time I go to visit him, he keeps telling me to be strong, to take care of his mother and our children. Our youngest child is only two years old, Mae Na said.
She said her husband was head of her village and close to government officials.
He helped the governments work as much as possible, Mae Na said.
But now, she feels that people are close to the authorities, like her husband, are the prime targets in the current situation in the South.
Maybe they know too much, she said.Visit my web page at http://daga.dhs.org/max
Violence as a way of achieving justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. (Martin Luther King)
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