Thailand’s deep south women are on the front lines of peace

‘Someone has to step up. If we are silent and do nothing, then we fail the next generation.’

Anticha Sangchai, a university lecturer in Pattani, started a football league encouraging participation regardless of religion or politics. She and other women in southern Thailand are trying to build peace in divided communities. (Luke Duggleby/TNH)
Four of Pateemoh Poh-Itaeda-oh’s relatives were killed. Now she runs an organisation that helps survivors of Thailand’s southern conflict, and tries to bring communities together. (Caleb Quinley/TNH)

Unresolved trauma

Part of what drives communal tensions is a sense of impunity for the violence, which leaves little opportunity to reconcile. Attacks by insurgent factions are usually unclaimed. Thai authorities often fail to prosecute security forces accused of abuses, including abductions of suspected insurgents and torture, rights groups say. Survivors of violence from all communities often have no explanation for their losses, and little access to justice.

Conflict drives other types of violence

Anticha Sangchai, a Thai Buddhist lecturer at Prince of Songkla University in Pattani, wants to create more opportunities for peace by pushing boundaries in other ways.

Peace from the ground up

Somjai Chuchart, a Thai Buddhist village chief in Pattani, believes it’s crucial to rebuild a sense of trust among the south’s often divided communities. And this process must start from the bottom up.

Somjai Chuchart uses her position as a village chief to promote unity between Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims in her area.

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