July 08, 2024

Obituary: Professor Chaiwat Satha-Anand


By Toda Peace Institute Director, Kevin P. Clements

Chaiwat Satha-Anand, aged 69,  succumbed to cancer on June the 27th 2024.  He was a wonderful human being, gentle caring and compassionate. He was a Thai Moslem which was unusual in strongly Buddhist Thailand. There is no doubt that this religious identity gave him a lifelong interest in how to negotiate all kinds of differences nonviolently. But it was the movements against Thai military dictatorships in the 1970s that gave him his passion for understanding how to resist repressive rule nonviolently.

As he put it “I believe that violence is a problem you can overcome. I have learned that conflict is normal and natural, so I don’t aim to eradicate it. But violence is not normal. And a solution to conflict does not need to involve violence. There should be another option, which is peaceful means.”

Chaiwat was the Director of the Thai Peace Information Centre which conducts studies and activism in relation to the Thai military and social issues. He was also Chairperson of the Strategic Nonviolence Commission in Thailand. His whole life was dedicated to nonviolence theory and activism, and he was particularly dedicated to understanding the peacebuilding traditions of Islam. For several years, he directed the International Peace Research Association's (IPRA) Commission on Nonviolence and he was an active member of the Asia Pacific Peace Research Association when I was its Secretary General.

He was the 2012 winner of the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize. In 2003, he was nominated to head efforts to reduce violence in southern Thailand as a member of the National Reconciliation Commission. He delivered a key final report to the Royal Thai Government on how to de-escalate the violence. He was an excellent scholar as well as a NV practitioner. One of his important publications was “The Promise of Reconciliation? Examining Violent and Nonviolent Effects on Asian Conflicts,” (Transaction Publishers, 2016).

More than all these achievements Chaiwat was a wonderful self-actualised human being. who embodied nonviolence as a way of life . He is sorely missed by all who had the good fortune to be in his company.

He was a much respected Senior Research fellow of Toda until he retired because of ill health. He did not allow this illness to define him, however, and continued his work for peace until the end.  Toda sends deepest commiserations to  his partner, Dr Suwanna Satha Anand.

Deepest condolences too, to all who worked with Chaiwat in APPRA, IPRA and the Centre for Non Killing in Hawaii. He was  a wonderful example to  all of us on how to embrace life and live it to the full.  As a mark of his high reputation, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, said “Even as I bid farewell to this remarkable soul, I find solace in the legacy he leaves behind. May his memory forever inspire us to walk the path of peace, seek understanding in the face of adversity, and build a world where harmony and respect reign supreme, ”RIP dear friend. Let’s honour his life by continuing his good work for a nonviolent Thailand in a nonviolent world.