Baha’i faith in some countries still faces persecution, including in Thailand. Observer of Baha’i Indonesia and Southeast Asia, Amanah Nuris, said the Baha’i movement among farmers in Yasothon, North Thailand Utara was symbolised through the presence of educational institution, which is Santitham school. The school promotes teachings and values of the Baha’i on peace and freedom.
Santitham school has programme and curriculum that are progressive in terms of social change, also defence movement to resist social, political, and economic injustices.
“This school offers curriculum of the theology of liberation that is relevant to people marginalised through political, social, and economic oppression in Thailand, such as what happened among farmers in Yasothon,” she said on Wednesday (1/3) in her doctoral promotion from Indonesian Consortium For Religious Studies (ICRS) at UGM Graduate School.
In her opinion, the Baha’i as a minority faith organisation in Thailand was able to absorp and assimilate well with the cultural and tradition of the local people of North Thailand. The presence of Santitham school gives important contribution to the farmers as a tool of command of knowledge to give resistance elusively and systematically in the long run.
The school teaches their students academic skills, intelectuallity, social awareness to help others, also economic knowledge and moral courage to defend equality and justice. “The presence of Baha’i school is also responded positively by the government and local people,” she said.
Amanah Nuris said farmers in Yasothon accepted the Baha’i teachings because since its establishment, it had defended the grassroot level from political and economic oppression. The Baha’i community has the same focus to resolve poverty issue that happens in developing countries, including Thailand. Baha’i became a contemporary faith movement along farmers which upholds freedom, peace, gender equality, human rights, and economic welfare.
Working on her dissertation titled Baha’i and Resistance of Farmers in Thailand, Amanah Nuris said the Baha’i movement in North Thailand was a new product in the theology of liberation in Southeast Asian context. In terms of teachings, Baha’i showed the presence of new category as new millenialism movement. Baha’i believes that in the future there will be a new world order based on the philosophy of Baha’i. All nations and human beings will unite without the borders on social, economy, ethnic, faith, or race divisions, etc.
On the background of Baha’i commitment on skills, economic welfare, gender equality and social movement that supports world unity, according to Amanah Nuris, member countries of ASEAN have to secure social, faith, economic, and cultural guarantee for all its citizens, including Baha’i adherents. This is because minority faiths such as Baha’i is very vulnerable to experiencing conflicts and often becomes the victim of violence.