At first glance Ibrahim looks like any other 23 year old Thai youth with hopes and dreams. Yet his life is anything but normal, as he carefully clears fallen debris from the gravestones of both his parents and older brother – having lost them in the ongoing conflict that has gripped southern Thailand since 2004.
Ibrahim’s calm exterior hides his profound sense of loss and grief. He elaborates, “When my parents died, for over one year it deeply affected me. I was afraid in the community and I had no courage to go outside. I thought many people were watching me and mistrusted me. When I lost my parents and brother I couldn’t study anymore. I had to work to earn money. Every time I walk past my parent’s room I think about them.”
Ibrahim typifies many of the high-risk youth and men affected by the conflict. This marginalized group lack educational or social opportunities and have inadequate life skills. This is despite the Thai Government spending more than 206,094.400 million baht in security, development and compensation trying to reign in the unrest, according to a recent study, Men and Youth in Thailand’s Conflict-affected Deep South, by the Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity at the Prince of Songkla University, supported by the World Bank.
Ibrahim seeks something more important than financial compensation: justice and closure. “What I want is justice for my mother, father and brother. I want to know clearly the cause of their deaths, but until now no one can find out who the perpetrators were. I want to end the suffering inside of me caused by their loss.”