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Exclusive: Muslim insurgent group says it met with Thai government

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Exclusive: Muslim insurgent group says it met with Thai government

By Panu Wongcha-um

 

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(Reuters) - The main group fighting an insurgency in Thailand's largely Muslim south said it had held its first meeting with officials from the new Thai government and had set out demands as a condition for any formal peace talks.

 

The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years and has flared on and off for decades.

 

Officials of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) said they met a Thai delegation at a location in Southeast Asia on Friday and demanded the release of all people detained over suspected links to the insurgency and a transparent investigation into abuses by security forces.

 

That could be a step towards formal talks, the officials said, while emphasising that it was very early in the process.

 

"If the official peace talks are a feast then these secret meetings are like bringing the cow into the kitchen, but the cow is not even slaughtered yet," Pak Fakir, 70, a senior BRN member told Reuters in a rare interview.

 

"The Thai state is like an oiled, slippery eel," he said.

 

General Udomchai Thamsarorat, the head of peace dialogue with southern insurgent groups for the Thai government, declined to comment on whether a meeting had taken place.

 

The BRN has not been in formal talks with the government although contacts did take place at least twice with the former military junta of Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has remained as prime minister after an election earlier this year that his opponents said was flawed.

 

ONGOING WAR

 

The past contacts with the BRN never led to talks and it has continued a guerrilla war to demand independence for Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces, which were part of an independent Malay sultanate before the kingdom of Siam annexed them in 1909.

 

A number of less militarily active southern factions have been in talks with the government.

 

"The root cause of our problem is colonization, and this has never been touched upon in past talks," Fakir said.

 

Although the BRN usually neither confirms nor denies responsibility for specific attacks, Fakir said that the group was not behind a series of small bombings that shook Bangkok on Aug. 2.

 

The bombs wounded four people and embarrassed the government during a regional security summit. Two suspects from the south have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

 

"We will not attack beyond the three southernmost provinces because we do not want to be perceived as terrorists," Fakir said. "We have our territory. Why should we venture out of it? ... Someone else must be behind it."

 

Despite the arrest of the southerners, the government has also suggested that it could be its political opponents that were behind the attacks - although political parties have condemned it and no group has claimed responsibility.

 

Tension has been rising in the south over allegations that a southern man, 32-year-old Abdullah Isamusa, was beaten so badly during military interrogation last month that he fell into a coma. The army has said there is no proof of torture.

 

Mara Patani, an umbrella group representing some factions that unlike the BRN have been in formal talks with the Thai military, has called for international intervention after the Abdullah case - a request rejected by Thailand's army.

(Editing by Matthew Tostevin)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-08-18

 

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Posted (edited)

Killed thousands of innocent Thais including monks, teachers and kids but don't want to be seen as terrorists, freedom fighters than is it? Maybe that is what should happen, get rid of those three provinces, nothing but death and trouble and we all know how Thailand dislikes the idea of colonization.

Edited by Orton Rd
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any meeting in the deep south, will be over very quickly!

 

 

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4 hours ago, rooster59 said:

Tension has been rising in the south over allegations that a southern man, 32-year-old Abdullah Isamusa, was beaten so badly during military interrogation last month that he fell into a coma. The army has said there is no proof of torture.

That's not going to go down to well with his friends in the south !

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1 hour ago, Krataiboy said:

The best chance of ending decades of strife and bloodshed is independent arbitration of some kind, possibly with United Nations backing. Jaw-jaw is always preferable to war-war. This objective is unlikely to be achieved

Not unlikely but guaranteed not to happen.

April 2017

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-insurgency/thai-junta-rejects-conditional-peace-talks-with-muslim-insurgents-idUSKBN17D137

  • Thailand’s military junta on Tuesday rejected a conditional offer from the main Muslim separatist group fighting in southern Thailand to enter into formal peace talks.
  • The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) said on Monday that it would be willing to enter into formal negotiations on the decades-old insurgency if certain conditions were met by the Thai government.
  • Among its demands were mediation by a neutral third party and the participation of international observers.
  • Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha rejected the offer and said peace talks were an internal matter and required no international mediation or observation.

The future for Prayut regime peace solutions:

July 2019

https://thediplomat.com/2019/07/thailands-quiet-crisis-the-southern-problem/

  • “Few people see the current government’s old-school approaches as sustainable, and this is widely recognized in the Thai military even though no soldier would ever admit this publicly,” .... “The military will continue to apply the same counterinsurgency strategies that it has been using. There will be little — if any — change under this new government.” - Jason Johnson, a Bangkok-based analyst
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4 hours ago, rooster59 said:

"The Thai state is like an oiled, slippery eel," he said.

and a muslim state is like a stick of dynamite !

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7 hours ago, Orton Rd said:

Killed thousands of innocent Thais including monks, teachers and kids but don't want to be seen as terrorists, freedom fighters than is it? Maybe that is what should happen, get rid of those three provinces, nothing but death and trouble and we all know how Thailand dislikes the idea of colonization.

Isn't that the same as the IRA

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Please do not retirn those states to malaysia. Actually can you please also take kelantan and terrenganu. Us on the other side of malaysia are happy to be without them.

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16 hours ago, Orton Rd said:

Killed thousands of innocent Thais including monks, teachers and kids but don't want to be seen as terrorists, freedom fighters than is it? Maybe that is what should happen, get rid of those three provinces, nothing but death and trouble and we all know how Thailand dislikes the idea of colonization.

After, those three provinces which ones are next🤔

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15 hours ago, Fred white said:

Isn't that the same as the IRA

which showed that violence is easy to start but difficult to stop when patriotism starts the heart beating faster urged on by politicians and especially when religion raises its ugly head and its holy representatives on both sides act as cheerleaders. The only alternative is a cool head and pragmatism, rare qualities in the world and even rarer in the Asian part of it.

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