Muslim rebels can return for Ramadan

Muslim rebels can return for Ramadan

Muslim insurgents who fled Thailand can return home without fear of arrest to attend religious activities during the holy month of Ramadan which started on April 3 and runs until May 14, government deputy spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said yesterday.

Ms Rachada said the programme, launched by the forward headquarters of Internal Security Operation Command Region 4, is named Masjids San Jai Soo Santi (To Mosques for Peace).

It developed as a result of peace talks between Thai negotiators and Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN), an Islamist independence movement active in northern Malaysia and Patani, from March 31- April 1.

The programme was inspired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's desire to solve problems in the southern border provinces, with an emphasis on building peace along with economic development, Ms Rachada said.

Members of insurgent groups who fled abroad can now return home and perform religious activities, without violence, during Ramadan. During this period, they will not be subject to any legal action by law enforcement officials.

Ms Rachada said the programme aims to foster an environment conducive to talks promoting understanding in line with Islamic principles, with Isoc Region 4 HQ the main coordinator, featuring the support of community and religious leaders.

As of Monday, 266 people had expressed their intention to join the programme, Ms Rachada said.

She urged people not to believe fake news reports circulating that claim those who return will be arrested.

Lt Gen Thira Daewa, deputy director of Isoc Region 4 HQ, has given firm assurances that no legal action will be taken against the returnees, she added.

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