News / Asia

Cautious Optimism Ahead of Thai-Insurgency Talks

Secretary-General of Thailand's National Security Council, Paradorn Pattanathabutr, center left, shakes hands with chief of Thailand's National Revolution Front (BRN) liaison office in Malaysia, Hassan Taib, center right, Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 28, 2013.
Secretary-General of Thailand's National Security Council, Paradorn Pattanathabutr, center left, shakes hands with chief of Thailand's National Revolution Front (BRN) liaison office in Malaysia, Hassan Taib, center right, Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 28, 2013.
Ron Corben
Thailand has announced it will undertake peace talks with a Malaysia-based group that is linked with a Muslim-led insurgency in southern Thailand, which has killed more than 4,000 people since it erupted almost a decade ago.
 
The peace initiative, while welcomed, has raised concerns about whether the steps will be sufficient to end bloodshed and halt insurgent calls for greater autonomy in the largely Muslim southern provinces.
 
The talks, scheduled to begin on March 28, were agreed to in Kuala Lumpur by Thai National Security Council Secretary General Paradon Pattanathabutr and Hassan Taib, a senior Malaysian representative of the National Revolutionary Front, known by its Thai-language acronym BRN.
 
BRN is one of several groups seeking to establish an autonomous state in southern Thailand.
 
Other groups include the Mujahedeen Pattani Movement, the long-standing Pattani United Liberation Organization, Pattani Islamic Mujahedeen Movement, the Mujahedeen Islamic Pattani Group, the National Revolution Front, Pattani Liberation National Front, Jemaah Islamiyah and Runda Kumpulan Kecil.
 
Secretary-General Paradon told a Thai parliament house committee other insurgent groups will be invited to the talks.
 
Angkhana Neelapaijit, president of the non-governmental organization Working Group on Justice for Peace in the South, says the Thai government needs to build greater trust in local communities for the talks to succeed.
 
“I think it is too fast for any negotiation, because I think we have a lot of [insurgent] groups of people who think different," she said. "We need to be very careful and need to talk with all the stakeholders."
 
Thai officials and human rights analysts say the talks in Malaysia followed lobbying by former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid a two-year jail term for corruption, but who remains a key decision maker behind the government.
 
Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk says Thaksin has used his close ties with Malaysia’s government to press for talks.
 
"Thaksin’s close friendship with ... with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and [other] personal friendships ... have been mobilized to get the Malaysian special branch police to pressure insurgent elders from the BRN Coordinate to come to the negotiation table," he said.
 
Sunai says the condition calling for insurgents to surrender the armed struggle for creation of an independent Pattani was added at the insistence of both Malaysia and Thaksin.
 
In Yala Province’s key city of Betong, hotel general manager Bunchong Wong says the local economy, especially tourism, would benefit from an agreement that leads to a reduction in violence.
 
“In the first step it is good, but the commander, the authority officer, should negotiate with the other groups, because there are four or five or six groups," said Bunchong. "If the people have got safety and security, it’s okay; surely my business will be better than last year.”
 
Analysts say the success of the talks still lie in addressing key grievances in the Southern border provinces, including an end to discrimination against Muslim communities.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs