Why is it so difficult to just say sorry?
The fatal shooting in which four Malay Muslim villagers were shot dead and five others injured by paramilitary rangers in Tambon Pulo Puyo of Nong Chik district, Pattani on Sunday night could become a “drop of honey” which might cause widespread resentment and deepen mistrust among the Malay Muslims toward government officials, especially the military.
The military has maintained that the victims were suspected insurgents or were armed whereas the local Malay Muslims insisted that the victims were innocent people who were on their way to attend the funeral of a dead Muslim in a nearby village, Ban Thung Po.
A close scrutiny of the statements from the authorities showed that the military’s sterotype mindset has not changed a bit after eight years of the insurgency war in the deep South – that is in a war there is either loss or win.
Maj-Gen Akara Thiprojana, spokesman of the forward command of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), appears to have seize control of the media space by convincing the media, especially the television networks, to report his version of the tragic incident on Sunday night. He said that suspected insurgents were mingling among the villagers and used the villagers as human shields to facilitate their escape after they attacked a rangers’ outpost on the same night.
Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister and former defence minister General Yutthasak Sasiprapa also maintained that the dead and injured victims were in the same league with the insurgents because a huge cache of war weapons were found in their pick-up truck.
The general dismissed the claim that the villagers were on their way to a funeral of another Muslim just a poor excuse. He asked why there were war weapons in their vehicle if they were actually on their way to attend a funeral ceremony and why they tried to escape when told to stop by the rangers.
Actually, only one AK47 assault rifle and one 11-mm pistol were found in the pick-up truck.This was the attitude of the state authorities who wanted to win the war of insurgency despite the fact that the Malay Muslims in the three southernmost provinces are also Thai citizens of a different race and of different religious faith but who live together on the same land.
Any individuals with a common sense would be able to guess whether this quick conclusion that the dead and injured victims were part of the insurgent group would worsen the unrest situation or would ease the tension.
It is unbelievable that after eight years of unrest in the Deep South, the military’s mindset has not changed – that they want to win the war rather than winning the hearts and minds of the local people.
As for the tragic incident, there seems to be a consensus by all parties concerned that the bullets that killed the four people partially or entirely came from the rangers’ weapons.
So why there has not been an apology for the victims and their families before there is a committee to investigate the incident because, at least, it was the rangers who killed and wounded the victims?
It is also unbelievable that nine months ago a similar fatal incident took place in a nearby village less than two kilometers away. The story was that a paramilitary outpost came under attack and a ranger unit was out in hot pursuit of the assailants and, in the process, two teenaged Malay Muslims were shot dead.
In that case, the rangers claimed that explosives were found in the possession of the two victims. But the villagers didn’t buy the rangers’ story.
In the end, the rangers admitted they killed the teenagers. And that was that. There was no inquiry and no compensation for the families of the dead. There has not been an apology from the military either for the incident after almost a year.
Translated from the editorial of Isra News Center