The Silence of the Bullet Monument

Violence and “Truth” Management, Dusun-nyor 1948, and Kru-Ze

Author: Satha-Anand Chaiwat


The so-called Dusun-nyor rebellion of April 1948 is a central and highly controversial episode in the history of southern Thailand. During the “rebellion,” Malay-Muslim villagers fought pitched battles with Thai police and soldiers. Drawing upon sources from a variety of perspectives, this article reviews these events in light of the Thai state's persistent attempts at “truth” management. What soon emerges is that the same events are understood quite differently by those of different perspectives. Using insights developed in other studies of the political usages of monuments, the article focuses on a rather mysterious “bullet monument” that commemorates the 1948 event. The bullet-shaped monument, which is located in the grounds of a police station in Narathiwat Province, has no accompanying text. Like the rebellion whose suppression it appears to celebrate, the bullet monument represents an ambiguous and confusing manifestation of collective memory. In various respects, the “Dusun-nyor rebellion” prefigures the controversy and ambiguity surrounding the storming of the Kru-Ze mosque in Pattani in April 2004. In this recent episode, thirty-two men were killed by Thai security forces inside one of the country's most sacred Muslim sites. Both the Dusun-nyor and Kru-Ze events point to the importance of looking beyond violence, and of thinking critically about the nature of “truth.”
Countries: Thailand

Download complete article from Taylor & Francis Online

© Jeff Kingston