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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid