News / Asia

Thailand Prepares for New Round of Peace Talks

Thai new Prime Minister Prayuth Chan–ocha arrives to attend an establishment anniversary of the 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen's Guard in Chonburi Province ,Thailand, Aug. 21, 2014.
Thai new Prime Minister Prayuth Chan–ocha arrives to attend an establishment anniversary of the 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen's Guard in Chonburi Province ,Thailand, Aug. 21, 2014.
Ron Corben

Thailand's military-led government is planning to hold talks with separatist groups in Southern Thailand to try to end a decade of violence that has claimed more than 6,000 lives. Analysts remain cautious about potential progress after previous talks stalled.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's government is setting up new security arrangements in the troubled southern border provinces, with the military controlling both the local security officials and the negotiations with rebels.
 
Talks begun in February last year under the civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra stalled in October after failing to make substantive progress.
 
Analysts say during the Yingluck government, divisions opened up between civilian administrators and the military, undermining efforts to curb violent attacks.
 
The Thai military has set up an executive committee and a peace dialogue commission for peace talks to proceed. An executive policy committee is to be chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth. The government, under the plan for the south, is also expected to appoint a new chief negotiator.
 
General Prayuth says more insurgent groups need to get involved in the talks that were initially led by the separatist BRN or National Revolutionary Front, and also have the official backing of neighboring Malaysia.
 
Panitan Wattanayagorn, a defense analyst at Chulalongkorn University, says moves to a more unified security and negotiating structure are welcomed.
 
"You have a more unified structure for the first time from the top down to the bottom. So these are very, very much refreshing on one hand but the real success should be on the ground, whether or not the implementation from the top can be successful on the ground."

Greater role for women

Angkhana Neelapaijit, a rights advocate, says civil society and human rights groups are calling for a greater role in the talks for women, often hard hit by the violence and conflict and groups outside the military.
 
"One thing civil society is not talking seriously about is how we can encourage the women to engage in the peace process and to make recommendations because men talk about power sharing, they talk about the administration but when women talk they talk about the quality of life, the health services, the social welfare," Angkhana said.
 
The most recent deadly attack came in late July when a car bomb exploded near a hotel in the southern town of Betong, in Yala province  near the Malaysian border, leaving at least three dead and over 30 injured.
 
More than 6,000 people - both Buddhist and Muslim -- have perished in the violence that remerged in 2004 after a decade as violence had subsided.
 
Officers from the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) say the Thai military is looking to gain insights from other regional insurgencies, such as Aceh in Indonesia, Mindinao in the Philippines and Northern Ireland.
 
Autonomy

In both Indonesia's Aceh and in the Philippines region of Mindinao the respective governments eventually agreed to a degree of autonomy.
 
So far the Thai Army has resisted any calls for autonomy, instead calling for an end to violence before substantive talks can begin.
 
But Chulalongkorn University defense analyst Panitan, says the military may have to accept a political solution, including a degree of autonomy, if the talks backed by General Prayuth are going to succeed.
 
"It remains to be seen if they could come up with a winning political solution or winning political strategy as they have in the past. Eventually after maybe three to six months tackling the economic problem [Prayuth] may have to come around and really work on the south together with a political solution," Panitan said.
 
In the 1970s and 1980s, Thai military leaders, along with support from Malaysia, succeeded in ending a prolonged period of insurgent violence through a combination of talks and offers of amnesty to insurgent fighters.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs