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9th Year of Tak Bai Massacre :Thailand massive payout to Tak Bai and Deep South victims: Is it the Way to Peace?

After years of pain, family members of those who died in a 2004 incident in Tak Bai, Thailand received compensation packages from the government. The move has been praised by locals as important to the reconciliation process in the strife-torn provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.

"Villagers now believe that the government can be relied upon to see that justice in being served in their communities," said the director of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC), Director Police Colonel Thawee Sodsong.
Eighty-five people are known to have died in the incident, in which government forces sought to quell a local demonstration over the arrest of six local men. Hundreds were handcuffed, crammed into military trucks and transported three hours to a military camp in neighbouring Pattani. The result, for many, was death by suffocation.
The tragedy is widely viewed as a catalyst for an upsurge in Deep South unrest, which has since left over 5,000 dead.
On June 12th, survivors and victims' families met with Thawee and members of a government committee, led by Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, which approved the compensation packages. For the Tak Bai victims, this amounts to 4 million-7.5 million baht ($127,000-238,345) per life lost, for a total of 637.5 million baht (more than $20.25m).
According to Thawee, it is important for the government to work to heal psychological wounds by providing justice.
"Today's announcement that the government will distribute compensation is just a part of the healing process. The most important thing is to maintain a good quality of life for them in the long term and help them live happy, productive lives," he told Khabar.
'Acknowledge and address the injustice'
One family member on hand was Massata Jahauma, who has lost two sons to Deep South violence. One, Muhammad Subre Abukari, was among those who died in Tak Bai. He was only 14 at the time.
A second son, arrested for alleged involvement in a gun robbery, vanished in December 2009 after being enrolled in a witness protection programme. He is presumed dead.
Massata, who lives in Narathiwat with her seven surviving children, told Khabar she remains haunted by what happened.
"The psychological pain can never be cured, but when I heard the news today that the government had approved compensation payments to victims' families I was glad," she said.
"Of course this will never compensate for our losses, but at least it is an attempt to acknowledge and address the injustice," she said. "I would like to thank SBPAC director Thawee Sodsong for bringing fairness to the local people.
"Although my sons are gone forever, I at least know that we can and will continue to stay in the area."
Yana Salaemae, a representative of the families of those killed in the Tak Bai incident, told Khabar: "The local people who have come today do so with pure hearts to say 'thank you' to Colonel Thawee for bringing us some justice. We have lived under a cloud of doubt and isolation for the past eight years. The answer we got today gives us great encouragement, making our fight for justice feel worthwhile, and at least lets us know that we have not been neglected or forgotten."
Wadueramae Mamingji, chairman of the Provincial Islamic Committee of Pattani, told Khabar that the people of the Deep South appreciate the help SBPAC does for the region in the areas of education, employment opportunities and religious affairs.
"We are ready and willing to co-operate in all aspects in restoring peace to the core of our society," the cleric said.
Victims, survivors of other incidents to receive compensation
Families of victims from two other high-profile incidents will also receive compensation under packages approved by the SBPAC. In April 2004, 32 suspected militants died during a shootout with soldiers at Krue Se Mosque in Pattani.
In another incident the very same day, 19 members of a championship-winning soccer team in the Saba Yoi district of Songkhla Province were shot to death as they staged an assault on a local police station. Authorities were blamed for excessive use of force against the attackers.
According to a summary of the compensation agreement provided by SBPAC to Khabar, families of the 32 militants who died at Krue Se Mosque, along with those of three slain government officers, will each be paid 4 million baht ($127,092) "for humanitarian reasons" and "as a step towards reconciliation".
In this case, a lower compensation amount was chosen – compared to the 7.5 million baht for the Tak Bai and Saba Yoi victims – because there is "basic evidence" indicating that government officials were at fault for using excessive force. The higher payments were reserved for cases where government culpability has been deemed "proven".
The size of the payouts is significant in a country where the average per capita annual income is well under $5,000, and even lower in the Deep South.
The amount of compensation of Takbai victims  from the Thai government is approximately 666, 451.200 Thai Baht  divided as follow:-
- The death victims    85  cases  total payment  561.101,000 Thai baht
- The  injured victims 449 cases  total payment  60,455,000 Thai Baht
-The disabled victims  1 case   6,380,000 Thai Baht
-With draw  a legal charge victims   58 cases  total payment  2,025,200 Thai Baht
- Remand victims 1,280 cases  Paid only 766 cases total amount  11, 490,000 Thaibaht


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