BRN's latest video clip provocative

The peace talks process between the government and the BRN rebel group is under increasing opposition because of the continuing violence in the far South, and the latest video clip posted on YouTube by the separatists will only put it in greater doubt.

The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist group is clearly more adept than the government in making good use of the social media in its propaganda campaign.

In its first video clip posted on YouTube, a few days ahead of the second round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur between the BRN and the Thai government on April 29, the Muslim rebel group announced five demands. These include the release of all detainees held on security-related charges and dropping of all arrest warrants, recognition of the ownership rights of the Malay Muslims of the "Patani" territory, and to acknowledge the BRN as a liberation movement.

This was followed up by a second video shortly afterward, which confirmed the five demands.

Another new spokesman emerged for the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN). Adam Muhammad Noor is described in a YouTube propaganda video as a "staff vice-delegate" of the group, sent to explain further the five demands of the BRN made on April 29.

The third video, posted this week, went further than the five demands and sounded more aggressive, more arrogant.

Abdulkarim Khalid, core member of the BRN and a member of the peace talks team, accused the government of perpetrating a number of violent incidents, including the massacre at the Al Furgon mosque in Narathiwat’s Cho Airong district and, recently, the killing of six people in front of a grocery store in Pattani on May 1.

He warned the government to stop all forms of violence against "the people of Patani" or face the consequences.

Another rebel leader, Hassan Taib, said the BRN was formed to fight for the liberation of "Patani" from the "Siamese colonialists" .

It came as little surprise that this latest video clip on the social media angered Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat, who quickly labeled the two BRN leaders as liars.

Undoubtedly, the latest message by the BRN was pure propaganda, meant to discredit the Thai government and to paint itself as a victim of "Siamese colonialism". In the true sense of propaganda, what the two men said was a half-truth.

It is true that some of the violent incidents were perpetrated by rogue members of the security forces, including the Al Furgon mosque massacre. But the BRN and the other rebel groups are by no means the good guys, or mere victims. They have been responsible for countless atrocities against innocent people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, women, children, the elderly and Buddhist monks. Several monks were hacked to death for the simple reason that they were Buddhists, and soldiers were killed and beheaded. None of these atrocities were mentioned, or even alluded to, by the two men on YouTube, and you can guess why.

Even so, Defence Minister Sukumpol’s emotional outburst against the two BRN leaders should not be allowed to disrupt or block the peace talks process. The third round of talks scheduled on June 13 in Kuala Lumpur must proceed, even if it is not expected to make any progress. Abandoning the peace process will only play into the hands of the rebels.

However, the BRN must be told, in a no-nonsense tone, that if they want the peace process to stay alive they should try harder to restrain the hardcore rebels behind much of the violence.

In the meantime, the government should be more active in making better use of the media and the social media to counter the rebels' propaganda.

Related search: Opinion, Veera Prateepchaikul, south violence, insurgency, peace talks, BRN

About the author

columnist
Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
Position: Former Editor