The other side of Marorso, the insurgent
In the eyes of the authorities in the restive deep South, Marorso Chantharavadee was one of the most wanted Islamist insurgent with a two million baht bounty on his head who was alleged to be responsible for several violent incidents in the region, including the killing of a Muslim teacher, Mr Chonlathee Chroenchon, a teacher at Ban Tan Yong school in Bacho district of Narathiwat province on January 23. This is one side of the coin.
Marorso was among the 16 insurgents shot dead by Marines after their failed attempt to seize the Marines’ outpost in the middle of a rubber plantation in Bacho district in the early hours of February 13.
The other side of the coin which is not widely known especially to the public in general is that Marorso was one of the protesters arrested for involvement in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat nine years ago who survived the deadly journey from the protest site to a military camp in Pattani province. This little-known side of the story was revealed by Ekarin Tuansiri in the website of Patani Forum, a non-governmental organization dedicated to telling the truths about the situation in the region in order to find a solution to the bloody conflict.
For public acknowledgement, the Isra news agency decided to rerun the story on its website.
Marorso’s other side of the story was based on interviews with his mother, 53-year old Mrs Jehma Jehnee and his wife, Mrs Roosanee Maeroh.
Before joining the insurgent gang, Marorso was a hard-working young Muslim who made a living doing all odd jobs that anyone would offer him, selling coconuts and garments. But after the Tak Bai incident, he completely changed to a different man – becoming less talkative and keeping to himself.
According to Mrs Jehma, Marorso was one of over 1,000 protesters arrested by security forces following a protest in Tak Bai district which turned violent. Seven protesters were shot dead and 78 others died of suffocation after they were piled up in layers as they were trucked from the protest site to an army barrack in Pattani province.
Marorso survived the deadly journey by freeing himself from the rope which was used to tie up his hands. He also managed to help untie the ropes from the hands of other protesters. But throughout the journey, he said he was occasionally kicked and struck with rifle butt.
The late insurgent always told his family that he felt very angry and painful in the heart of the abuses because he thought he was innocent and did nothing wrong.
Not long after the Tak Bai incident, there was an explosion which killed about a dozen soldiers in Marorso’s village and Marorso was blamed for involvement in the incident with a warrant issued for his arrest. From then on, his name was mentioned in several other violent incidents which took place in the three southernmost provinces, including lately the killing of Mr Chonlathee Charoenchon in Bacho district of Narathiwat.
Since Marorso became one of the most wanted insurgents by the authorities, his family had been subjected to numerous searches and visits by security forces. His mother, Mrs Jehma, was once arrested after a few bullets were found in a sugar’s box in the house but she was eventually released without charges. His younger brother was also detained for 21 days on charge of throwing a bomb at security forces but he was eventually set free as there were no evidences to substantiate the charge.
Mrs Jehma said she suspected that the actions taken by the authorities against her and her son were meant to put pressure on Marorso to turn himself in but it didn’t work out.
Mrs Jehma talked about an incident when Marorso’s younger brother who looks quite similar to the insurgent was forced to kneel down by a group of soldiers who threatened to shoot him because they thought he was Marorso. It was through the intervention of Mrs Jehma who shouted at the solders that he was not Marorso the insurgent that her other son’s life was saved.
The elderly woman complained that her house was frequently searched by security forces to the extent that she could no longer tolerate the nuisances and would pour scorns at the authorities.
Mrs Jehma said she would not blame the Marines for the death of Marorso because it was the result of fighting. She insisted that Marorso was a good man until the Tak Bai incident which had changed him completely.
One year after the Tak Bai incident, Marorso married his lover, Ms Roosanee Maeroh. But before asking for her hand, the late insurgent asked her whether she could accept him as a husband because he was wanted by the authorities and had to be on the run all the time.
They were married anyway and the couple has a six-year old daughter and a boy who is now 17 months old.
Initially after the marriage, the couple spent their lives working in Malaysia. But they later returned to Bacho district with Maroso going back to hiding to evade arrest by the Thai authorities.
Mrs Roosanee said she used to ask Marorso to surrender but he refused claiming that he was wanted on so many charges that he would never have a chance to get out of prison to live with his family.
Two days before the attack on the Marines’ camp, Marorso came to visit Roosanee at their house during the night. He also called her at about 9 p.m. on the night before the attack which was the last contact between the couple.
At about 6 a.m. on February 13, she received a phone call from a soldier whom she was familiar with who told her that Marorso was dead. Marorso’s body was returned to the family at about 11 a.m. His funeral was attended by several admiring people. His body was buried without a bathing rite and prayers in keeping up with the tradition of a jihadist.
Mrs Roosanee said she did not regret her husband’s death but was proud of him as he was a family man who took good care of the family. She said he had wanted their two children to study Islam abroad.