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 Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid