Thailand: Taking It Out On Teachers


May 21, 2006: Schools reopen tomorrow, and police in the Moslem south are braced for more violence against non-Moslem teachers. While the south is 80 percent Moslem, half or more of the school teachers are not. That's because the south has been poor and economically backward for so long, that not enough locals have gone to college, to fill all the local teaching positions. Islamic militants, supported by smuggling gangs, have stirred up old religious and ethnic resentments (most Thais are ethnic Thais and Buddhists, while in the south, most people are Malays and Moslem). The Thais consider the southerners a bunch of bigoted, lazy, ungrateful, hicks. The southerners consider the northerners as arrogant, quick to violence and insensitive. Better media access in the south, and radio stations across the border in Malaysia, spread the word of any real, or imagined, insult to southerners. This has led more southerners to violence against non-Moslems.

May 19, 2006: In the south, villagers, angered by the arrest of two of their neighbors, on suspicion of shooting at soldiers last month, seized and severely beat two Buddhist teachers. Most of the non-Moslem teachers are women, and they are further resented for not covering up and acting modest and deferential, as good Moslem women should.

May 5, 2006: Thailand has found itself at the end of an underground railroad for North Koreans seeking asylum in South Korea. The refugees, after escaping North Korea, move through China, Laos and Burma and into Thailand, where the South Korean embassy offers sanctuary and repatriation to South Korea. China, Laos and Burma are all police states that will return North Korean refugees to North Korea, where the "escapees" face death or long terms in labor camps.


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