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High alert as deep South mourns

Published on Apr 30, 2004

Region remains tense; families say they had no idea of sons' militant links

To parents and others who knew him, Nurudin Hayimama, 18, was a nice young man. He had just passed an exam to study information technology at Yala Vocational College. He loved soccer and played the sport with friends regularly after finishing daily evening prayers.

When he left home in Yala's Yaha district late on Tuesday night, nobody was suspicious.

So, when authorities notified the Hayimama family that Nurudin was among the 108 suspected separatists killed in Wednesday's bloodbath in the deep South, family members were stunned.

Stories similar to this were told in villages across the volatile, grief-stricken region yesterday, as tearful parents, relatives and neighbours buried their dead.

Some funeral rites were simply sad and solemn. Others were filled with barely restrained anger.

Nurudin was among 10 teenagers in Tambon La-ae neighbourhood killed in the carnage. Most were described as well-behaved youths who never shown signs of fanaticism or separatism.

"Three days ago I was discussing with my son about where he should undertake job training," the father of another youth said.

Like Nurudin, Inni-ammad Abdulloh neither drank nor smoke, his father Je-mudoh said.

"He rarely left home at night," the old man said.

In Pattani, similar accounts were passed on to reporters.

Sakariya Hatkhajeh, a 30-year-old Muslim in Pattani's Khok Pho district, told his father Salaeh, 60, before leaving home on Tuesday he was going to a wedding ceremony for a friend in Songkhla's Saba Yoi district.

Sakariya was shot dead along with 18 other people during an attack on the police outpost in Saba Yoi.

"He was a good son," Salaeh said.

"I would have stopped him if I had known. But it must have been God's will for him to die there, so I have no words to say," he said.

Sakariya's funeral was conducted on Wednesday night according to the Islamic way. He was buried in the same place as eight others from the same village shot dead in the violence.

"We did not carry out the bathing ritual for all nine, including my son, as we deemed they had died for religious purposes, not through an accident or murder," Salaeh said.

Muslim burial rights include a thorough cleansing of the deceased's body.

Muslims who die for religious purposes do not require cleaning, he said, as their bodies are believed to be cleansed by their actions to see God after death.

Many families and villages surveyed at random by The Nation did the same yesterday, as they deemed the attacks a religious matter.

The funeral ceremony conducted yesterday by Pattani Provincial Islamic Committee for those who had no relatives to take their bodies also did not include the bathing ritual. But in some cases, such as in Yala province, families conducted bathing for the deceased.

Sakariya was married to a woman in Saba Yoi but they had no children. He had lived with his wife's parents since a year ago, Salaeh said.

He returned home in Khok Pho to visit his parents twice a month or sometimes every week, his father said.

The young man worked in para-rubber plantation in Saba Yoi, earning about Bt800 a day. He studied Islam for seven years in a well-know religious boarding school (pondok) in Pattani's Dallah after finishing secular education at a secondary school in Khok Pho, Salaeh said.

"My son kept to himself and practised religious activities regularly," he said.

Sakariya's study of Islam was quite intense and he prayed five times a day as a good Muslim does, his father said.

When he came to visit, Sakariya would spend almost all day at home, watching news, mostly sports news before going out to play football with friends on a nearby school field, he said.

According to authorities, many of the 108 killed were on drugs when they staged their attacks. Some of them walked as though they were drunk, they said.

Salaeh said he still had no idea how his son became involved in such a movement, as he had never hinted at any frustration with the government or officials.

"I don't believe my son was lured by anybody into such a movement as he was mature and clever enough to know what's right and wrong," Salaeh said.

Eight other people from Khok Pho district's Asam village died on Wednesday. They ranged widely in age and included Ma Sumae, 67.

Police shot him after he slashed a police officer near Kru Se Mosque.

Sakariya died in Saba Yoi. Two others died in Mae Lan district, while six were killed in the Kru Se Mosque. They knew each other but were not close, Salaeh said.

"All of them were good guys, had isolated habits and strong faith in Islam. I think they did such a thing with their free mind for God," he said.

Some families suffered bigger losses than others. In Yala, Sakiaya Samaeh, 52, buried two sons in the early hours of yesterday, according to Muslim rites. They were gunned down by police, who said they attacked a security post in nearby Ban Neang village.

It was a sleepless night before the bad news.

Sakiaya said she had been waiting all night for her two boys who left home before dawn on Wednesday. They were supposed to go tapping rubber and return around 11am, which had been their routine for years, she said.

Anxious, she went out and looked for them, wandering around places they might go. Before Sakiaya could decide what to do next, a police truck arrived around 10am yesterday and an officer said both her sons, Mohamad Yazi Sama-ae, 29, and Sa-aree Sama-ae, 27 , had been shot dead in the clash with security forces.

Sakiaya said she could not believe her ears. She and her sister-in-law Hasana Wadeng set out on another mission - to look for their bodies. Deep down, she was hoping the police officer was wrong.

The women went from Yaha district's health office to the Sirindhorn Military Camp before finally finding their bodies at the Ingkayuth Military Base in Yala.

"We brought them home and organised a funeral before burying them at 2am," Sakiaya said.

Meanwhile, the whole Gubaerayor community was in silence. They lost 11 teenagers and men in the attacks. The last body was retrieved from the Krue Se Mosque - Abdulrosik Ruhbo, 18, who had just finished high school.

Sakiaya said she bid farewell to her sons.

"All I could say was to ask God to take them to the land where they can stay in peace," she said.

Her sister-in-law Hasana insisted her nephews were good boys, who never smoked or stay overnight outside their own house.

"How could they be accused of being drug addicts?" Hasana said. "They never talked about separatism or resentment against government officials."

People from the community backed up her claims.

Supalak Ganjanakhundee


Terbitan : 6 Mei 2004

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