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‘Safety zone’ to be proposed in peace talks in South

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‘Safety zone’ to be proposed in peace talks in South




BANGKOK:-- THAI CHIEF PEACE negotiator General Aksara Kerdpol has revealed that an agreement, which would include a proposal for “safety zone”, is being drafted for discussion with the separatists in the deep South, Colonel Banphot Phunphien, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), said yesterday.

Banphot, also deputy spokesman for the Peace Dialogue Panel, said the Steering Committee for Peace Dialogue, chaired by the prime minister, had set the dialogue's framework and direction in three phrases.

They were confidence-building, ratification and achievement of a consensus for a peaceful solution for the conflict.

In the first phrase, which was the most challenging and was now in progress, talks would be arranged to boost confidence and trust on both sides so they could approve the joint agreement on administration and the supporting details as well as the violence limits.

Talks with the separatists are on an unofficial basis and at the level of exchanging ideas with all sides, selecting and checking on representatives to join the dialogue and listening to problems raised by "those holding different views from the state", he said.

A joint technical team was just set up recently to formulate a joint agreement that would serve as rules for the dialogue, which the team could submit for approval from both sides' policymakers, he said.

Banphot quoted Aksara as saying the delineation of a safety zone was among the three proposals that the Thai team would try to present officially to the dialogue process.

It is hoped this idea will see both sides agree to stop violence within such zones. This would reduce the violence in those areas first and international humanitarian law would be applied there.

This is a measure to boost confidence and trust in the dialogue process, Banphot said.

He also quoted Aksara as saying that the team expected progress, which should diminish violence in the Southern region significantly.

Banphot said the Fourth Isoc Area Front Command, as the Area-based Inter-agency Co-ordination Working Group, would follow through on the tasks according to the annual plan, prevent any side from imposing a new condition and create an environment that harmoniously accommodated the dialogue process.

Banphot quoted Aksara as affirming that the dialogue process would be carried out according to the joint intentions of the Thai prime minister and his Malaysian counterpart to end the violence and restore peace to the deep South soon.

Blaze destroys school in Pattani

In Pattani's Thung Yang Daeng district, a fire broke out at Ban Nam Dam School at 3.30am, burning down the building and destroying all the school equipment. The damage was estimated at nearly Bt3 million.

Police were investigating whether this blaze was caused by an accident, such as a short circuit, or was the handiwork of an arsonist.

This school was among the five that were torched on October 17, 2014, leading Thai authorities to implement the "Thung Yang Daeng" model of peace-building, which instilled nationalism and improved relations among villagers to that they would volunteer to watch out for anything suspicious.

Funeral held for tambon official

In Narathiwat's Sungai Padi district, Panu Uthairat, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, attended the funeral of Boonlert Jindathananant, 57, an official of the Tambon Romsai Administration Organisation.

Boonlert was shot dead on Tuesday by 10 suspected insurgents in front of witnesses at his office in Sukhirin district.

Panu also presented some cash compensation to the widow and her six-year-old son. He promised to send the son to school until the undergraduate level.

-- The Nation 2016-01-01

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Confidence building will be difficult with the Thai military and specifically with ISOC. For example,

- Mid-level ISOC officers have been involved in human trafficking (but no convictions)

- Thai military/paramilitary indiscriminate acts of terrorism towards innocent Malay-Thais are rarely punished

- Military wants negotiations to remain unofficial while the insurgents want international monitoring

- Paramilitary units directed against insurgents seems to operate independently of ISOC operations

- Prayut is viewed by insurgents as only interested in public relations (his image) and not real solutions

_ Thai military undermined peace talks lead by the Yingluck regime

- Thai government must place the negotiations on the national agenda so that regime change will not affect peace terms

- The Thai military refuses transparency in any peace talks.

- Prayut has failed with Malaysia as a mediator in the peace talks.

- Prayut must stop dictating peace terms

- Prayut blames the news media for failed peace talks and takes no responsibility for failure

- Prayut fails to understand the root cause of the conflict

The conflict is not simply one of nationalism. It is a complexity of religion, tradition, language, ethnicity, culture, education, economics, and history that runs counter to the Buddhist Kingdom of Siam/Thailand. Malays became a conquered people in 1785 and been treated as such to current times.

The absence of violence in previous negotiations did not bring peace. "Safety zones" only serve to consolidate military resources and present no benefit to the insurgency. The fundamental flaw of current and past peace talks is having a highly nationalistic military leading them.

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