Army rejects calls to lift far South emergency law
Fourth Army chief Phonsak Phunsawat has insisted that special security laws in the restive South be maintained following this week's massacre of 15 people at a civil defence volunteer checkpoint in Yala's Muang district.
His remark on Thursday came amid calls for the government to review use of special laws in the region, such as the Internal Security Act and the emergency situation decree, over concerns about rights violations.
Lt Gen Phonsak said the government was still trying to resolve insurgency violence through peace talks but, with militants still active in the region, security authorities needed to maintain enforcement of the special laws.
He condemned those responsible for the attack on the civil defence checkpoint, calling their actions a violation of human rights.
"This [the attack] is an indication that militants use violence indiscriminately, and we call on the public to examine their activities, which are tantamount to violations of human rights," he said.
Prachachat Party leader Wan Muhamad Nor Matha yesterday joined calls for the abolition of special security laws in the deep South and urged the state to speed up the peace dialogue.
He added that responsibility for tightening security should be handed to local authorities rather than the military.
Mr Wan Nor said security operations in communities should be handled by police, border patrol police, and local leaders, not troops.
"The attackers want to destroy the peace-building process, so the government must look to expedite the peace talks. However, special security laws should be reviewed and security operations should be reinforced by locals, not the military," he said.
The opposition MP denounced the attack, expressed sympathy for the victims' families and called on the government to bring the culprits to justice and to improve protection for local communities.
Meanwhile, the huge manhunt for those responsible for Tuesday night's massacre continued yesterday, while security measures were stepped up across the three southernmost provinces and four violence-prone districts of Songkhla.
A source close to the investigation said evidence such as bloodstained clothes, caps, and spent cartridges had been collected from the scene and sent for forensic examination.