JIRAPORN BUNNAG - Our Last Encounter
( Dedicated to Phi Jae@ Jiraporn Bunnag - a peace advocate of the Deep South )
Our initial impression of her when we first met was, how could a lady with this small stature understand the sufferings of the underprivileged people of the Deep South, when she has spent most of her carrier years in the centre of power so far away? How could she discover the bitter truth of how a people not of her own kind and race would fare in their day-to-day lives in a region plagued with prolonged political unrest ?
It took us only a few hours of sitting and listening to her soft but firm words when it dawned on us that she not only knew the people's sufferings more we than we did but she could also felt the pain they endured, as if she was amongst the victims of violence, injustice and discrimination.
Her heart may be soft but her will was that of steel. She taught women, especially the victims, to stand up fearlessly , to voice out their opinions against all odds.
In our meetings through a span of 5-6 years we discussed many things : education, language, religion, culture, social issues and people's well-being. These later on progressed to cover wider topics that finally focused on politics and the peace process.
All of those happened behind the scene, known only to a handful of people on "both sides of the wall". Our main focus was how a sustainable peace process could be initiated and pushed forward. We would not claim the peace process that kicked start more than 2 years ago was due to our lobbies on both parties of conflict. But again what we saw subsequently were the fruits of what we had discussed and worked for, away from prying eyes thus far ,to see the process being initiated.
The travel fatigue and her deteriorating health did not deter her from wanting to reach to the people on both sides to make her voice heard and to translate her true intention for a workable and achievable peace in its true sense.
During our last encounter it pained our hearts to see her, frail and emaciated, wheelchair-bound, all the way from her home just to share a word or two with us against the advice of her family and assistants. It was even sadder to know that she could no longer grasp all that was said to her and neither could we fully understand the messages she wanted to pass across.
We could feel her agony of having to endure chemotherapy that she went through. Although we prayed for her speedy recovery with soothing words and cheerful remarks, but deep in our hearts we also knew then that would be our last encounter.
On Saturday , March 14 2015 at 19.36 hr we received a message from a close friend : P'Jae passed away peacefully an hour ago. We all prayed for her. Wish her rest in peace. This morning I whispered to her ears that her work and her dream will be carried on.
In less than six months we had lost two persons who had made distinct marks for acknowledgement and recognition as peace advocates of the Deep South : Acharn Ahmadsomboon Bualuang (September 20 2014) and Madam Jiraporn Bunnag ( March 14 2015), both the main anchors of the KPI.
" what more could I say..
when there is so much more to say..
yet ...words so few..
and... ink so little..
but feelings immense ..
and as you leave.. there will be a vacuum existing within all our hearts "- anonymous.
To her loves ones, family and friends, rest assured that what P'jae had always dreamed to see (PEACE) and worked hard for, will be a reality ......someday.
By : Abu Hafez Al-Hakim - from outside the fence of Patani.
March 19, 2015 / 28 Jamadil Awwal 1436 H.
(Last photo of P'jae with us on 6/3/15)