Monday, February 13, 2012

Panel approves aid for South victims Payments to range from B10,000 to B7.5m

A government-appointed committee set up to compensate and rehabilitate people affected by violence in the strife-torn deep South has resolved to pay up to 7.5 million baht in compensation each to families of those killed during eight years of violence.
The committee, chaired by Justice Minister Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, came up with the compensation package for families of four groups of violence victims in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla's four districts _ Chana, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi and Thepha _ after meeting yesterday at a hotel in Songkhla's Hat Yai district.
People affected by violence in the deep South had demanded compensation, after the government approved restitution for victims of political violence elsewhere in the country.
Those who have been injured, disabled and wrongfully arrested during the spate of violence in the South will be entitled to receive redress ranging from 10,000 to 350,000 baht, depending on their injuries.
The four groups of people eligible for compensation are families affected by the Krue Se mosque tragedy in Pattani and the murder of football players in Saba Yoi district of Songkhla on April 28, 2004; the Tak Bai protest in Narathiwat on Oct 25, 2004 and the armed attack on a mosque in Ban Ai Payae in Narathiwat's Cho Airong district on June 8, 2009; 37 cases of missing and enforced disappearances; and general violent incidents.
Pol Gen Pracha said yesterday families of those killed in the four groups of attacks will receive up to 7.5 million baht compensation each.
The amount of money is equal to that which will be paid to people affected by violence related to political protests.
The panel will submit a resolution to the cabinet by the end of the week. Once approved, payment will have to be made in the next few months, said Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, who attended the meeting.
Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, director of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, said staff had gathered information on all cases of people affected by the southern violence and assured they will receive the compensation soon.
It's still unclear if the families of four Muslim men who were killed and four others who were injured by military rangers on Jan 29 in Pattani will receive compensation.
Pol Col Thawee said the investigation into whether the men were killed and injured by state officials is underway. If they were killed by soldiers, their families will be entitled to full compensation.
Pol Col Thawee said families of authorities killed in the violence are not entitled to compensation this time, but consideration will be made later, under the same framework.
Affected family members who are entitled to receive redress said they were happy with the committee's resolution _ but peace advocates doubted if the compensation would bring about peace in the deep South.
Khayah Wani, 41, a widow whose husband was killed in the Tak Bai massacre, told the Bangkok Post that after the death of her 41-year-old husband Mae she had had to take care of her two kids alone. She earns a living tapping rubber trees.
"I am so happy to hear that the government will pay compensation for the loss of my husband," she said. "I intend to spend the money on my two children's education."
Angkhana Neelapaijit, chairwoman of the Justice for Peace Foundation and the wife of missing Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, said paying compensation to those affected by violence in the far South would help ease the pain of some Muslim families, but she doubted whether it would reduce violence there. "To make the situation there better authorities must enforce the law carefully," she said.
"When they detain a person they must have clear evidence of a crime. Many victims have been wrongfully accused and arrested for a crime they never committed.
"If the government lets the situation remain like this, I am certain it will be hard to restore peace in the deep South," Mrs Angkhana said.
Somboon Ahmad Bualuang, a member of the now-dissolved National Reconciliation Commission, said that apart from rehabilitation and compensation for all southern violence victims he wanted to see justice in the deep South.