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Since January 2004, the insurgency in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, has resulted until now in the deaths of more than 1,500 people. The emergence of such a situation has threatened peaceful development of Thailand as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation. Thai Muslims constitute about 4 – 5 % of Thai population, making up the largest religious group after the Buddhist majority.
The unrest in the South has raised national concern about how to bring about peaceful resolution to the crisis, how to rebuild peaceful relations between the Buddhist and Muslim sections of the country and continue on the path of building civil society in Thailand.
Moreover, the conflict in Southern Thailand has attracted international attention, raising concerns that the situation will be exploited by international terrorists as a reason to launch a jihad in Thailand.
The main problem facing Thailand at the present is how to bring about peace through national reconciliation, which recognizes the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic characters of Thai polity at national level and would lead to the end of conflict and bloodshed.
The Thai government has been trying to find solutions to the crisis in a multi-pronged manner undertaking political, security, cultural and religious initiatives: Building reconciliation by peaceful means, reducing use of military force and considering establishment of a self-administrative zone in the restive provinces. All of them are still being studied, and many of them are under debate.
For these reasons, Konrad Adenauer Foundation Thailand has set up a research project, starting from December 2005 to June 2006, with a conference and a publication as outcomes. The main objective of the conference is to offer a forum for Thai and international academics and public figures to explain the historical background, which is little known, and reasons behind the unrest in the Southern Thailand, focusing tensions and pressures that have contributed to the prolonging of the conflict. The conference also aims to provide suggestions on rebuilding the peace in the region.
Speakers are prominent political scientists, political philosophers, security analysts, religion specialists and peace activists, who are engaging both academically and practically in addressing and seeking solutions for the Southern crisis. Some of them are members of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), set up by the Thai government as an independent body to find solutions to the problem. Moreover, German distinguished experts will be invited to share their opinions and experience at the conference.
The researches presented in the conference will be published with support from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and will be released in September 2006.
Friday, 1st September 2006
09.00 - 10.15
Asst. Prof. Dr. Warayuth Sriwarakuel,
Dean, Graduate School of Philosophy and Religion,
by Dr. Lars Peter Schmidt,
Representative to Thailand, Konrad Adenauer Foundation
Rev. Bro. Dr. Bancha Saenghiran, f.s.g.,
President, Assumption University
Dr. Michael Banzhaf, Chargé d’Affaires,
German Embassy, Thailand
“The Cosmology of the Southern Conflict”
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan
Member of Parliament and former Member of the National Reconciliation Commission,
10.15 - 10.30
SESSION ONE: Building Culture of Peace
10.30 - 12.00
Dr. John Giordano, Assumption University
“Building High-Trust Cultures for Peace in the South of Thailand”
Asst. Prof. Dr. Warayuth Sriwarakuel, Assumption University,
12.00 - 14.00
SESSION TWO: Culture, Language and Educational Change
14.00 - 17.00
Dr. John Giordano, Assumption University, Bangkok
- “Local Patriotism and the Need for Sound Language and Education Policies in the Southern Border Provinces”
Dr. Gotham Arya, Mahidol University
- “Educational Change for Building Peace in Southern Border Provinces of Thailand”
Dr. Sarfee Ardam, Prince of Songkla University,
- “Nation-State and the Muslim Identity in the Southern Unrest and Violence”
Asst. Prof. Thanet Apornsuvan, Thammasat University,
!Saturday, 2nd September 2006
SESSION ONE: State, Reconciliation, Ethnicity, and Islamic Fundamentalism
09.00 - 12.00
Dr. Joseph Fernando, Assumption University
- “The Ethno-Religious Dimension of the Conflict in Southern Thailand”
Dr. Imtiyaz Yusuf, Assumption University
- “The Malaysian Factor in the Prospects for Peace in Southern Thailand”
Prof. Omar Farouk, Hiroshima City University
- “The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Arab World - The Asian Dimension”
Dr. Michael Lüders, German Oriental Foundation
SESSION TWO: Loyalty, Cross-Border Relations and Outcome of Dialogue
14.00 - 15.30
Dr. Veerachart Nimanong, Assumption University
- “Facing Southern Violence with Peace Reconciliation - An Islamic Perspective”
Prof. Chaiwat Satha-anand, Thammasat University
- “Dialogue between Christianity and Islam in Europe: Opportunities and Difficulties”
Gerhard Duncker, Oberkirchenrat, Office of Regional Protestant Churches of Westphalia, Bielefeld, Germany
PANEL DISCUSSION - THE FUTURE OF SOUTHERN CONFLICT
Dr. Imtiyaz Yusuf
- Prof. Chaiwat Satha-Anand
- Asst. Prof. Dr. Warayuth Sriwarakuel
- Prof. Omar Farouk
- Dr. Michael Lüders
Rev. Bro. Visith Srivichairatana
Vice President, Academic Affairs, Assumption University