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A new round of Southern peace talks gives hope but the Junta is stalling during the election campaign

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Peace talks to end the long-running conflict in Thailand’s southernmost provinces hit a stumbling block last week when Thailand’s new peace negotiator failed to attend a scheduled meeting.

The struggle, commonly referred to in international media as the ‘southern insurgency’, has been between Muslim guerilla fighters and the Thai army, partly over borders, and partly fueled by religious and cultural differences.

But analysts remain hopeful that a resolution could still be hammered out and are pinning their hope on Malaysia’s new role in the talks.

The Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamed has openly expressed his commitment to the peace process and appointed the former police chief Abdul Rahim Noor as representative in the talks. Mr Abdul played a role in ending the country’s communist insurgency in 1989.

History

The region, encompassing three provinces, was an independent Muslim sultanate but was formally annexed by Buddhist-majority ‘Siam’ at the turn of the 20th century.

In 2004, the century-long ethnic tensions escalated into a full-blown conflict as a result of long-running centralisation policies, local administrative changes and and Thaksin’s ‘war on drugs’ that targeted the region particularly viciously.

More than 7,000 people have died in the violence over the past 15 years, according to local monitor NGO Deep South Watch.

Current round of talks

Zachary Abuza, a professor specialising in Southeast Asian security at the National War College in Washington DC, says the Malaysian government is interested in the peace talks because “they don’t want instabilities on their borders”.

The Malaysian government also say it’s concerned about the flow of weapons from Thailand over the border after several Islamic State cells were uncovered and dismantled in Malaysia last year.

However, the Thai efforts in peace talks have “never been in good faith”, claims Abuza, pointing to negotiator Udomchai Thammasarorat’s snub of a meeting facilitated by Malaysia with the delegation of the Mara Patani, an umbrella organisation consisting of several separatist groups. Udomchai only showed interest in meeting its leader Sukree Haree.

After the incident, Mara Patani suspended the talks until after Thailand’s March 24 elections and asked for the Thai facilitator to be replaced with a person “with more credibility”.

“Mara Patani sees the attitude of refusal to confront the dialogue team as unacceptable and we suspect a hidden agenda when he only wanted to meet me,” Sukree Haree told Malaysian news agency Bernama.

Abuza claims Thailand’s military government, which seized power in May 2014, would not give Malaysia any substantial role in negotiations.

“They are terrified that this conflict will become an internationalised conflict.”

 

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Insurgency

Suspected insurgent killed in gunfire exchange with rangers in Thailand’s deep south

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Photo via Facebook/ คนรักทหารพราน

A suspected insurgent was shot and killed in a gunfire exchange with Thai rangers in Narathawit, a province in Thailand’s deep south by the Malaysian border plagued with violence from the religious separatist insurgency. 2 other men were arrested after the clash with rangers in the Bacho district this morning. Another suspected insurgent is on the run.

Rangers got a tip that 4 insurgents were hiding out at a home in the district. The rangers surround the home at around 5am this morning. The men inside the home fired shots at rangers, shooting a 28 year old soldier in the wrist. The gunfire exchange lasted about 10 minutes. A suspect, identified as Sufian Yoso, managed to escape out the back of the home.

Rangers searched the area and found the body of Suraidin Katae, also known as Madong, who had a warrant out for his arrest. Suspected insurgents Ku-afnan and Ku-amran Kupama, who are brothers, were arrested. Rangers say the men had a 11mm pistol and an AK102 rifle.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Songkhla

Man struck and killed by freight train just 2 days after being released from prison

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Photo via Facebook/สถานีรถไฟชุมทางหาดใหญ่ Hat Yai Junction

Just 2 days after being released from prison, a 34 year old man was struck and killed by a freight train in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district yesterday. Police suspect the man intentionally ran onto the tracks in front of the moving train as it was leaving the Hat Yai railway station about 300 metres away and headed toward the Bang Klam district.

The man had been incarcerated on drug charges. He was released 2 days prior to his death and was staying with a friend who lived in a community along the railroad. The man’s family says he suffered from mental illness and had attempted to commit suicide many times in the past.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai), or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Insurgency

Thai ranger and 2 suspected insurgents killed in Thailand’s deep south

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Photo via Facebook/กรมทหารพรานที่ 47

In the ongoing violence from the Southern Thailand insurgency, 2 suspected insurgents and a Thai ranger were killed in a clash between security forces and an armed rebel group in Yala’s Krong Pinang district. Known as Thailand’s “deep south,” the provinces Yala, Narathiwat, and Pattani, along the Malaysia border, have been plagued with violence for years due to the religious separatist insurgency.

Law enforcement officers had received a tip that suspected insurgents, who were wanted on court warrants, were staying in the Batu Buela and Bae Chaeng villages. A team of police and soldiers, along with some civilians, were deployed to the villages. 30 year old Wan Asan Asu, who had a warrant out for his arrest, surrendered to officers while other suspected insurgents responded with gunfire.

Shots were fired from both sides for about 2 hours. Nopparit Sukson, a ranger of the Yala-based 47th Ranger Regiment, was killed in the clash. Officers searched the area after the gunfire exchange and found the bodies of 2 men who had warrants out for their arrest. Each had an AK47 rifle and one of them also had a pistol.

More officers have been called to help clear the area today.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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