BRN sets peace talk conditions

The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) has gone public with what it calls its five demands for a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the deep South, but said it will continue fighting until a deal is reached.

  • Published: 28/04/2013 at 12:08 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

The BRN on Sunday set up what it called an official channel on YouTube, and posted a 3-minute 45-second video made by its chief negotiator Hassan Taib and a BRN ideologue who stated the five conditions.

The second man was identified on the video as Abdul Karim Khalib, a "staff delegation" of the BRN since March 28, the day of the first negotiating session between Thailand and the BRN in Kuala Lumpur.

A second round of talks is to begin on Monday in the Malaysian capital. National Security Council (NSC) chief Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut said he would ask the BRN why violence continued even as peace talks were underway, and Mr Khalib answered him in the Sunday video.

"We will continue the fight to get rid of colonial rule and oppression of Patani Malay," he said. "Patani" is the separatists' word for the region covering all four southernmost provinces, a carryover from before the area came under Thai control.

The Malay language video was translated on Sunday by Hara Shintaro, who teaches the language at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani campus. According to him, Mr Khalib gave the following five-point demand:

1) The "Siamese government" must accept the role of the Malaysian government as “mediator” of the peace talks and not just as a "facilitator".

2) The peace talks will be attended by only the Melayus led by BRN, and the authorities of the Siamese government. ("Melayu" is the self-description of the BRN, used only for Thais of Malay origin in the deep South. It is one key to negotiations, since the insurgents do not recognise the rights of non-Malay Thais in the region.)

3) Representatives of Asean members, members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and other non-governmental organisations should be allowed to observe the discussions.

4) The Siamese authorities must release all detained suspects without conditions, and must suspend and stop issuing additional arrest warrants for other suspects.

5) The BRN’s status must be recognised as a Pattani liberation movement, not an insurgency group.

He concluded: "The struggle of the BRN can lead to peace and justice, to the establishment of a state, God willing."

The final statement will not please Lt Gen Paradorn or the Thai authorities. The document signed Feb 28 by the BRN's front man, Hassan Taib, promised the talks would stay strictly within the Thai constitution - meaning above all there must be no talk of separatism.

Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary general of the National Security Council, called a meeting on Sunday to discuss the BRN statement. According to the video clip, Mr Khalib was present last month at the first peace negoatiating session in Kuala Lumpur.

Lt Gen Paradorn said he could not say immediately whether the conditions are acceptable. He will discuss the statement on Monday at the talks with Mr Taib and his group.

He was due to leave for Malaysia Sunday afternoon with members of the negotiating team.

His team includes deputy permanent secretary for defence Gen Nipat Thonglek, secretary general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, special advisor to the office of permanent secretary for defence Gen Samret Srirai, chief of the Special Branch Police Pol Lt Gen Sarithchai Anekwiang, a representative of the Internal Security Operations Command Maj Gen Nakrop Boonbuathong, Narathiwat governor Apinan Suetanuwong, director of the Deep South Watch Centre Srisompop Chitpiromsrim and Army Region 4 chief of staff Maj Gen Charin Amornkaew.

The YouTube video is entirely in Malay:

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