Internal Security Operation Command Region 4 forward headquarters has launched a programme to allow Muslim insurgents who fled the country to return home without fear of arrest to attend religious activities during the holy month of Ramadan, from April 3 to May 14, government deputy spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said on Wednesday.
Ms Rachada said the programme was titled Masjids San Jai Soo Santi (To Mosques for Peace).
It was the result of talks from March 31- April 1 between Thai peace negotiators and representatives of Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN).
The programme was inspired by Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's desire to continue to solve problems in the southern border provinces, with emphasis on building peace along with economic development, she said.
Members of insurgent groups who had fled abroad could return home and perform religious activities, without violence, during Ramadan. During this period, they would not be subject to legal action by law enforcement officials.
Ms Rachada said the programme aimed at opening room for talks to promote understanding in line with Islamic principles, with Isoc Region 4 forward headquarters the main coordinator and with support from community and religious leaders.
As of April 18, 266 people had shown an intention of joining the programme, Ms Rachada said. This number was expected to grow.
Ms Rachada said there had been fake news circulated, saying that those who returned under the programme would be arrested. This was not true.
Lt Gen Thira Daewa, deputy director of Isoc Region 4 forward headquarters, had given an assurance there would be no legal action taken against the returnees, she said.