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Thai bishop warns: nation on path to civil war

Catholic World News - May 17, 2010

The president of the Bishops' Conference of Thailand is warning that the unrest that is gripping the nation may degenerate into a civil war unless the two sides begin serious negotiations.

“We cannot stress enough the point that the only way is dialogue: we need to lay down arms and abandon the violent solution to the crisis,” Archbishop Louis Chamniern Santisukniram of Thare and Nonseng told the Fides news agency. “I fear that the country is at the beginning of a civil war that, if it is not stopped, will become a catastrophe.”

“Both the factions are determined to win and seek to defend their interests, without considering the rest of the Thai population and the common good,” Archbishop Chamniern. added. “The government accuses the leaders of the 'red' protest to be 'enemies of the crown' and 'traitors,' but this does not seem true to me, and it seems a way to discredit the protest in the eyes of the nation.”

Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders “are willing to offer our assistance and we could play a mediating role between the parties, if we were involved,” the archbishop added. “The population, at this time, places greater confidence in religious leaders than in political leaders. And we would be ready to take the field and start working for the good of the country to stop further bloodshed.”

The nation of 65.8 million is nearly 95% Buddhist, 5% Muslim, and 0.5% Catholic.

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