AMLO’s seizure of a pondok school is confusing
A dilapidated Islamic religious school in Yaring district of Pattani which was left abandoned since it was closed down by authorities in 2005 has recently been "frozen" by the Anti Money Laundering Office to the chagrin of its co-owners.
Children of Mr Baboheng who founded the Jihad Witaya school in Tambon Taloh Kapoh were confused because they had not received any notification from AMLO about the freezing of the property despite press report about the AMLO’s action.
Yawahee Waemano, the 46-year old daughter of Baboheng, admitted that she was confused because she had not received any notification from AMLO. She said that she didn’t know which plot or plots of the land on which the school is located were frozen because all the land plots did not belong to Abdulloh, her husband who managed the school and was thought by authorities to be the only owner.
Mrs Yawahee insisted that her husband did not own the land which is owned by her family of members, including herself.
"We strongly feel that we were not treated fairly because father (Abdulloh) does not own the land," said Suhaila, daughter of Mrs Yawahee and Abdulloh. She said that the land was frozen because it was suspected by security forces of being the shelter of insurgents.
Jihad Witaya pondok school was open in 1968 to cater to the need of poor Muslim children. Mrs Yawahee said that poor Muslims in the community who could not afford to send their children to schools just sent their children to her father’s school.
"The children came in the morning and could go back home for lunch. Others worked at home and came to school at noon and returned home in late afternoon to do house chores and came back again to attend class at night," said Mrs Yawahee, adding that it was why the school was quite popular and had quite a few students.
But after the school was closed down two days after it was searched by security forces to look for suspected insurgents or evidences connected with the insurgent groups, all the children were deprived of any education because their parents could not afford their education elsewhere.
She recalled the day the school was searched by security forces eight years ago. "There were only two students at the school because it was not open yet. My younger brother was arrested and detained for a short period before he was released but since then he left because he was too afraid to stay home."
A few months afterward, she said her younger brother was shot dead. Her father, Baboheng, was shot dead in 1978. She complained that security forces seized two pickups and one motorcycle from the school and only one truck was returned to the family while the other has gone missing.
Her husband, Abdulloh, looked after the school since 1978 until it was closed down in 2005.
Mrs Yawahee said that the school originally operated with donations from Malaysia and students did not have to pay any fees. But after Baboheng’s death, the school experienced financial problem but thanks to donations from local people it managed to survive.
70-year old Mrs Moro-nging Waji, a local villager, said she felt very sorry that the school was closed down because it had deprived many poor children in the community of education. As for the AMLO’s order to freeze the school, she said it was very unjust for Baboheng’s children who had nothing to do with the insurgency.