Hundreds of Thai schools close down to protest education worker killings

Featured South East Asia - November 27th, 2012

Hundred of schools in conflict-riven southern Thailand closed down Tuesday in protest over the killings of education workers by Muslim militants.

Teachers decided to suspend classes at more than 321 schools in Pattani with no clear date when they will reopen, AFP reports.

“We want to put pressure on security forces and the government to take greater care of our safety,” said Boonsom Thongsriply, chairman of the teacher’s association in the region.

Militants view the school system as the government’s effort to impose Buddhist culture on the Muslim-majority region and has targeted teachers, who are seen as a symbol of government authority.

Insurgents called for greater autonomy with almost daily bomb and gun attacks. The eight-year unrest has claimed more than 5,300 lives, both Buddhist and Muslim, including over 150 education workers.

Just last week, insurgents set off a bomb under a railway in Narathiwat, killing two people and injuring 15, ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.