But the Muslims say, "Paper birds mean nothing here." From Reuters, with thanks to Walker Colt:
By Nopporn Wong-Anan BANGKOK (Reuters) - Struggling to end 10 months of unrest and bloodshed in Thailand's Muslim south, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has turned to origami to shore up support for his security policies ahead of a 2005 general election.
The unconventional peace initiative, in which 63 million Thais are being urged to make paper birds to stop the violence which has claimed nearly 500 lives, has become an overnight national sensation with everyone from children to soldiers.
Around 10,000 troops in the south and hundreds of thousands of health ministry volunteers are busily folding paper birds.
Electronic road signs in Bangkok are urging Thais to get folding, so the Air Force can "bomb" the south with a hoped for 63 million symbols of goodwill on December 5 to mark the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
"I agree with the prime minister that these paper birds will help relieve some tension down there," factory worker Mana Seekasin, 47, told Reuters as he put a paper dove in a huge box outside Government House in the capital.
But analysts and Islamic leaders say goodwill gimmicks will not ease the unrest if the mainly Buddhist government continues to ignore entrenched state prejudice and religious discrimination in the Muslim-majority south bordering Malaysia.
"The key obstacle to solving problems in the south is that the majority of Thais look at Muslims as second-class citizens," National Islamic spiritual leader Sawas Sumalyasak said on Friday.
Does Sawas Sumalyasak then renounce any intention, now or in the future, to reduce non-Muslims anywhere in Thailand to second-class dhimmi status?
"Using religion to treat people differently is against the constitution," said Sawas, who is also president of Thailand's Central Islamic Committee....
The violence took a new twist on October 25 when soldiers clashed with thousands of protesters in front of Tak Bai police station in Narathiwat province.
Seven Muslims were killed in the clashes, but another 78 died of suffocation while being transported to an army camp.
Since then at least 30 people, almost all of them Buddhists, have been killed in apparent revenge attacks.
Thaksin's origami scheme is not favoured by all.
"I disagree with the idea of making birds from banknotes and sending them to Muslims because Muslims never help non-Muslims," wrote one person identified only as "Army" on www.manager.co.th.
"Therefore we should put spells on pieces of paper we use to make birds for those vicious Muslims."
Recipients of the gesture in the deep south, whose problems Thaksin has variously blamed on drug dealers, gun-runners, local politicians, Muslim teachers and separatists, also want something more concrete.
"Paper birds mean nothing here," said Narathiwat Islamic Council President Abdulrahman Abdulsahad, adding that his office was still getting reports about protesters missing since the Tak Bai incident, and of survivors suffering kidney failure.
"The government should make it clear who is responsible for missing people and help those who need urgent kidney treatment," he said.