Teachers are easy targets and security lapse
Why teachers in the restive deep South have always been targeted for attacks by suspected insurgents?
The Isra news desk have come up with three probable reasons which will hopefully provide an answer to the above-mentioned question.
Firstly, teachers are considered as a “soft” target because they have to travel back and forth between homes and schools on daily basis, five days a week and almost at the same time everyday. The routine ritual makes them vulnerable to attacks by suspected insurgents. Even though in actual practice in high risk areas, teachers are escorted by security forces during their journey, the timetable schedules are barely changed and can be correctly anticipated by suspected insurgents if they want to stage an attack against the teachers.
Secondly, more than 90 percent of the attacks against teachers occurred on the road while the teachers were traveling to schools or returning homes. There was barely any incident about a teacher being attacked at home although the insurgents are capable of mounting such an attack. This clearly speaks volume to the theory that the attacks against teachers by suspected insurgents were meant to discredit the security forces as being incompetent and also to provoke conflict between security forces and teachers.
Thirdly, teachers have been held with respect and granted a special status in the Thai society. Hence, an attack against a teacher most likely results to a public uproar and attracts widespread media publicity as wished by the insurgents.
The three above-mentioned probable reasons seem to correspond with the terrorism tactic of using small armed gangs to fight against a large conventional force of the government by means of targeting such “soft” target as teachers to put pressure on the central government to bow to their demands or terms of condition.
Altogether 157 teachers or educators have been killed by suspected insurgents in the past nine years with four of them shot dead in November and December. The latest two victims, Mrs Tatiyarat Chueykaew, director of Ban Ba Ngo school in Mayo district of Pattani, and Somsak Kwanma, a teacher in the same school, were shot dead as they were having lunch in the school’s canteen on December 11.
On November 22, Mrs Nanthana Kaewchan, director of Ban Kha Kam Sham in Nong Chik district, was shot dead behind the wheel as she was leaving the school for home in her car. On December 3, another teacher, Mrs Chatsuda Nilsuwan, of Ban Ta Ngo school in Cho Airong district of Narathiwat was shot dead as she was riding a motorcycle for home. A male teacher in Su-ngai Padi district of Narathiwat, Thirapol Chusongsaeng, was seriously shot the following day.
Despite the recent attacks against teachers, about 5,000 units of soldiers, police, paramilitary and defence volunteers have been deployed on daily basis to protect teachers in the restive deep South. There are altogether more than 1,300 schools with over 20,000 teachers in the region.
Standard security arrangements for the teachers are as follows:
In case teachers are to travel in a convoy escorted by security forces, teachers are told to gather at a meeting point where they are to travel to the same school in group under escort. Before leaving the meeting point for school, an advance patrol unit in motorcycles or car will survey the traveling route first to look for suspected people or bombs which might be planted on the road or other objects which might be placed on the road.
There are however loopholes in the security arrangements. For instance, the short journey between homes and the gathering point where teachers are not protected and thus exposing them to possible attacks. Practically, it is almost impossible for security forces to escort every teacher from home to the gathering point or to school.
Another wellknown of security lapse is that the gathering points and the traveling routes used by the teachers and their escorts are mostly unchanged and wellknown to suspected insurgents.
Some teachers have refuse escort because they believe that they will be safer traveling on their own without protection.
Another security lapse is the lack of or inadequate communication between teachers and their security guards. In several cases, teachers were attacked as they left home to somewhere else such as to a market to do some shopping and without notifying or asking for security protection.
Caption : All government schools in far South were closed after four teachers were shot dead by suspected insurgents in November and December.