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05BANGKOK2837 THAILAND: QUEEN CALLS FOR UNITY AND VIGILANCE IN THE FACE OF CONTINUING SOUTHERN VIOLENCE

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“31475”,”4/26/2005 10:20″,

 

“05BANGKOK2837″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“CONFIDENTIAL”,”04BANGKOK8067″,

 

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

 

 

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002837

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV

PACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PTER, TH, Southern Thailand

SUBJECT: THAILAND: QUEEN CALLS FOR UNITY AND VIGILANCE IN

THE FACE OF CONTINUING SOUTHERN VIOLENCE

 

REF: 04 BANGKOK 8067

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Robert J. Clarke. Reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 23 Queen Sirikit delivered a

strongly worded nationally televised address calling for an

end to the violence in southern Thailand. She urged all

Thais to work with the government against persons responsible

for recent killings and bombings, saying the violence

threatens the economic livelihood of the entire country. The

remarks were delivered at the Royal Palace in Bangkok in

front of a large gathering of Village Scouts and other

representatives of nationalist civil defense groups. This

speech follows emotional remarks delivered by the Queen on

November 16, 2004, where she called for peace in the South,

but suggested that direct action needed to be taken to

protect the local Buddhist population. END SUMMARY

 

2. (C) On April 23 Queen Sirikit gave a stern, at times

passionate, 40-minute speech from the Chitralada Royal Palace

in Bangkok on the violence in southern Thailand. Her

remarks, broadcast simultaneously nationwide by all of

Thailand\’s television stations, were delivered in front of

nearly 1,200 members of the Village Scouts and members of

other voluntary civil defense organizations from across the

country. After delivering the remarks she was heard telling

Privy Councilor Surayudh Shulanont that \”His Majesty wanted

to say this, but feared it would be too strong, so he asked

me to speak instead.\”

 

3. (SBU) In her remarks, the Queen said that Thais should

not \”sit idly by\” while violence escalated. She called for

Thais to unite in a common effort against those responsible

for southern violence, saying that citizens shouldn\’t expect

the government alone to solve the problem. She stressed that

she was not asking for Thai citizens to take up arms, but was

calling for all Thais to work with the government and serve

as \”eyes and ears\” for security forces. The Queen, echoing

recent statements by Prime Minister Thaksin and other RTG

officials, suggested non-violent methods be used to restore

peace in the South.

 

4. (SBU) The Queen focused much of her remarks on the

potential the violence had to harm the national economy. She

twice mentioned the April 13 triple bombings in Songkhla that

targeted important commercial symbols, including the

international airport and a western-owned retailer. She

warned that the violence could scare away foreign tourists

and investors, impacting the entire nation. She noted that

the continued violence could have a far more negative impact

on Thailand\’s economy than the December 26, 2004 tsunami

disaster. \”It will affect the tourism industry and the

economy could collapse.\”

 

5. (U) The government\’s response was, predictably,

complimentary of the Queen, with officials promising to heed

her advice. Prime Minister Thaksin praised the Queen\’s

remarks, saying that Thais, \”should take the Queen\’s words to

heart, and cooperate with Thai authorities by passing on

useful information.\” Interior Minister Chitchai said the

Queens remarks \”will be the light to guide our work.\” Other

officials echoed the praise, while urging southerners to

provide information about militants.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: It has been extremely rare for a member of

the Royal Family to speak publicly about an ongoing situation

in the country. Historically, the Queen\’s formal public

speeches have been limited to her birthday, yet this is the

second time in less than six months that the Queen has made

formal remarks about the situation in the South. More

unusually, the Palace did not announce ahead of time that the

Queen would deliver the remarks or that the audience would be

televised.

 

7. (C) COMMENT continued: The Queen\’s remarks — which we

would characterize as reserved, but resolute — were quite

different in tone from her highly emotional November 16, 2004

speech (reftel) where she indicated that direct self-defense

measures were required to protect Buddhist Thais living in

the South. This time she did not single out the embattled

Buddhist population, but instead focused on all the innocent

victims of the \”brutish\” militants, and the potentially

devastating economic impact of the violence.

 

8. (C) COMMENT continued: While the tone for the Queen\’s

speech was different, her immediate audience for her remarks

was the same – the Village Scouts. The Scouts are a

nationalist organization, originally organized by the

government in the 1970s as a means to mobilize the rural

population against the communist insurgency. The Scouts,

with over 6.7 million members nationwide, organized a large

rally in support of the Government following the Queen\’s

November remarks. Some local observers have expressed

concern that the Scouts — who have a history of violence

towards those seen as opposing the government — could

aggravate the situation in the south by encouraging

nationalist sentiment among the Thai populace, while further

alienating southern Muslims. By keeping the Scouts in the

picture, the Queen runs the risk of doing just that.

 

9. (C) COMMENT continued: The most striking line of the

speech seemed to be delivered directly to the Scouts; \”I

still remember the pledge of allegiance that all of you have

uttered before His Majesty the King and myself that you will

be loyal to the Nation, the Religion, and the Monarchy, and

will defend the country.\” To Thai ears \”the Religion\” means

one thing, Buddhism. While not explicitly doing so, the

Queen could be interpreted by some as again having issued a

call to action — to defend Buddhists. END COMMENT

 

10. (U) An official transcript of the Queen\’s remarks was

not released. The following is an informal Embassy

translation based on excerpts carried in the Thai language

press:

 

BEGIN INFORMAL TRANSCRIPT/TRANSLATION

 

\”I invite all of you here today in order to seek your

cooperation. I had pondered for a few days before I decided

to invite you to meet me today mainly because of my grave

concern about the situation in our country, particularly a

spate of simultaneous bombings in various places in Hat Yai

District, Songkhla province. Hat Yai has had a number of

tourists and we have ever benefited from revenues from

tourism. If we allow these tragic incidents to continue

spreading, our incomes from tourism will dramatically

decrease and our national economy will collapse.

 

I did not feel frightened in the face of massive natural

disaster caused by Tsunami tidal waves in December 2004

because it was a natural disaster. But I do feel that the

bombings at the airport and elsewhere have severely

undermined our economy and affected the overall living and

careers of the people.

 

I still remember the pledge of allegiance that all of you

have uttered before His Majesty the King and myself that you

will be loyal to the Nation, the Religion, and the Monarchy,

and will defend the country. I would like to ask you to

take this pledge as \”words of truth\” that will inspire us to

get ready to protect our country. Please don\’t be a silent

force indifferent to prevalent tragic incidents in the

country.

 

Now, our southern provinces have gravely suffered not only

from natural disasters but also from abnormal and cruel

people who can kill human beings like fish or vegetables as

you already know. I volunteered and took the Royal Command

(from His Majesty the King) to travel to Thaksin Ratchanives

Palace for two months\’ stay in September and October 2004.

His Majesty the King and I normally stay in the southern

region for one or one and a half months at a time, but this

last time I did not feel like returning (North) at the usual

time because I had witnessed the hardship and untold

suffering of our people. I therefore extended my stay up to

2 months. I have always asked for cooperation from all of

you, from the government and private sectors as well as NGOs

who attended a previous gathering at this Dusitdalai Hall (in

November 2004), to brainstorm and extend our heartfelt

support and assistance to our sisters and brothers in the 3

southern provinces in order to comfort them with our concern

and understanding of their sufferings.

 

But there still remains outbursts of violent incidents

against authorities and villagers, who have shared the same

destiny. The most recent ones were the bombing at the

international airport in Hat Yai District, Songkhla province,

and simultaneous bombings of a department store and a hotel

in the province, resulting in several deaths. It is evident

that this group of inhumane persons has intentionally killed

the innocent without caring whether they are women, elderly,

or children. This is evidently an act of brutes who have no

religion, no morality, no humanity, and who are capable of

doing violent and cruel things that normal people cannot.

These people have no sympathy for anyone else.

I believe these people not only deliberately intended to kill

others but have also conspired against the country. For such

unabated violent incidents would give our country an

unattractive and poor look and scare away visitors who could

not possibly feel safe in the face of incidents of bombings.

I therefore think it is now time for me to talk clearly to

you about the grave dangers now plaguing Thailand, especially

the persistent bombings which damage the Thai economy and

tourism despite the rich and beautiful national resources

found in Thailand.

 

When I hear lately about an increase in daily killing from

one to 4-5 cases a day, and recently about even more frequent

bombings, I feel that our country is in real danger. I am

reminded of your pledge to defend the country and the Thai

people uttered before His Majesty the King at a time when I

don\’t know who else to turn to for help.

 

I have no specific proposal, and never think of mobilizing

all of you to take up weapons to kill anyone, because we are

all Thai compatriots and not duty-bound to suppress one

another with arms. I would merely like to ask you not remain

idle, for your idleness could do great harm to the country.

Rather, we must show that we realize the dangers facing the

country and demonstrate understanding of years of suffering

by our southern compatriots. I think it is the Thai people\’s

duty to defend the country and jointly condemn these inhuman

and cruel acts of assaulting and killing innocent people at

Thailand\’s expense. We must also be silently vigilant and

act like ears and eyes for state authorities to monitor any

unusual activities.

 

We must help keep our compatriots from getting killed,

injured, maimed and being prevented from working for their

livelihood. We all have to protect all official properties

procured with taxes from the people. All Thais and the armed

forces have to preserve legal sanctity by non-violent means

in order to restore peace to the south as soon as possible so

that our brothers and sisters in the south can live safely

and normally pursue their occupations. In so doing, we can

unify our efforts and thinking and combine forces to denounce

any hostile act that could gravely affect the country. We

cannot simply stay idle, as we have already pledged to defend

the country. If we are able to comply with our pledge,

every sector will be happy because of our mutual care.

 

You should try to think and consult among you to determine

whether it is time and appropriate for all of us to be united

and not to stay idle or silent regardless of any bombing or

whatever happens. We cannot just leave these

responsibilities solely to the government but must join

forces to help one another and protect Thailand without

holding any weapon. I really hope that all of you who vowed

to defend the country, and on whom I have pinned much hope,

will unite your efforts to defend your country, to show your

gratitude to your homeland, and to build the country for our

new generations.\”

 

END INFORMAL TRANSCRIPT/TRANSLATION

BOYCE

 

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 1:17 am

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