BRN gets one-month deadline to curb attacks

KUALA LUMPUR : Thailand has given Hassan Taib one month to prove he truly represents the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) by reducing the number of violent attacks in the deep South.

Speaking Monday after the second round of talks between the National Security Council (NSC) and the BRN, NSC secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said Mr Hassan and his BRN group will have all of May to prove they can control the insurgents.

Lt Gen Paradorn said the next talks will be held on June 13.

Unamused: Paradorn Pattanatabut, national security chief and head of the peace talks delegation, rejected the BRN's five demands. (Bangkok Post photo)

"We want to monitor if violence will subside in the far South before talks resume. This will help us to determine if the BRN is a true leading organisation that can control other groups," he said.

The NSC chief said Monday's talk was "very stressful" as the BRN kept insisting on its five-point demand, which the Thai side could not accept.

Lt Gen Paradorn said he asked Mr Hassan if he could really control the insurgent movement. "[Mr Hassan] insisted he could," he said.

Lt Gen Paradorn said Mr Hassan affirmed that the BRN was a united group, with the BRN-Congress, BRN-Coordinate and the Permudor and Ulamah youth groups under its umbrella.

The BRN side added one more person to its negotiating team Monday.

The seventh BRN delegate is Ahmad Arwang, who is a leader of both the BRN-Congress and Permudor.

The Permudor group controls the young-generation militants. In his capacity as a leader, Mr Ahmad works closely with Abdul Galim, who appeared on the YouTube video clip featuring the BRN's five-point demand on Sunday. Mr Abdul is also one of the BRN's negotiators.

Monday's talks ended at 8.30pm.

Observers said the BRN's demands are a slap in the face for the government.

Human Rights Watch adviser Sunai Phasuk said while the government is demanding the peace talks proceed in line with the constitution, the BRN is rallying for separatism.

"It is a slap in the face for the Thai side," he said.

According to Mr Sunai, Malaysian authorities pressured Mr Hassan to join the process, while senior BRN figures are opposed to the peace plan.

Democrat Party and opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the BRN's demands have put the Thai side in a difficult situation. The group was taking part in the talks while at the same time trying to raise the level of violence in the deep South to become an international issue.

The BRN's tone was unfriendly and not conducive to building trust, he said.

"If we choose harsh words to retaliate, the peace dialogue will be affected. If we don't respond, it means we can't do anything," he said.

Pattani senator Anusart Suwangmongkol denied the BRN claim that its demands were supported by locals. "Most locals have never heard of Hassan [Taib] so how can he or his associates speak on their behalf?" he said.

Related search: thailand, south, peace talks, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, BRN, Hassan Taib, Paradorn Pattanatabut, challenge

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Writer: Achara Ashayagachat & Wassana Nanuam