BRN put to test as fasting month opens

Govt will hold militants to ceasefire pledge

The government is keeping a close watch on whether the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist group will observe a ceasefire during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which started Wednesday.

These messages sprayed in Malay on a road in Narathiwat accuse authorities of violent acts. Similar messages were also found on banners hung on trees and electricity poles in the province, and in Pattani and Yala. (Photo by Waedao Harai)

National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said the government had agreed with armed insurgent groups in the far South on a ceasefire during Ramadan.

Lt Gen Paradorn, who has led a team of negotiators in the peace dialogue with the BRN, said that under the ceasefire agreement, violence must stop as of Wednesday.

Authorities must continue to monitor the situation to see if the ceasefire is indeed observed.

The BRN earlier issued seven demands to the government in exchange for curbing violence during Ramadan, while the Thai side also presented demands to the BRN via Malaysia, Lt Gen Paradorn said.

He said the BRN's initial reaction has been to accept the government's demands.

Lt Gen Paradorn said the two sides had agreed that if any violent incidents occur during Ramadan, they will communicate with each other via Malaysia within 48 hours.

If the groups responsible for instigating violence can be identified, the Thai side will ask the BRN why it failed to stop those who carried out the attack.

The Thai delegation will also ask the BRN for suggestions on how to deal with the groups who instigate the violence, Lt Gen Paradorn said.

The venue and the date for the next round of peace talks will be set again after the end of Ramadan, he said.

As for measures to prevent violence during Ramadan, Lt Gen Paradorn said security measures will comply with the religious practices of Muslim people during the holy month.

Sources said the last-minute cancellation of a press conference by Malaysian authorities on the Ramadan ceasefire was due to some issues not having been resolved.

The BRN believes the authorities have not complied with its demand to have no further checkpoints.

Authorities are still sticking with their insistence on searching people individually. The authorities are going through the BRN's demands one by one, the sources said.

Meanwhile, cloth banners bearing a message written in Malay condemning "Siamese colonialists" were found displayed in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat Tuesday.

The white banners, each several metres wide and long, were hung on roadside trees, electricity wires, power posts and signs welcoming the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the three southernmost provinces.

In Narathiwat, the banners were found in Muang, Chanae, Bacho, Rueso, Cho Airong, Tak Bai and Waeng districts.

The banners were also put up in Muang and Than To districts of Yala, and in Yaring, Panare, Yarang, Kapho, Nong Chik and Sai Buri districts of Pattani. The message on the banners can be translated as: "Cruel + Destructive + Deceiving + Smearing = Siamese colonialists."

The insurgents want the public to think the sentiments on the banners reflect the demands of residents, Col Pramot Phrom-in, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command's Fourth Region said. "The authorities have never adopted violent approaches. We have strictly carried out operations under the law and human rights principles," Col Pramot said.

Related search: south, thailand, ramadan, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, brn, ceasefire, peaceful

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Writer: Patsara Jikkham, Achara Ashayagachat & Waedao Harai