A prominent insurgent group in Thailand's restive Deep South has denounced MARA Patani, the umbrella organization of separatist movements, and on-going peace talks between them and Bangkok. Meanwhile, a document claiming to be from the group was issued today.
On 11 October 2015, the Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) published an exclusive interview with four representatives from the Information Department of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the most active insurgent faction in the three restive Southern border provinces.
The four told the news agency that the BRN is ‘categorically’ not involved in the current peace talks and viewed them as a ‘negative phenomenon’.
One of the four, who referred to himself as ‘Yusef’, told NRA that there are many ‘unsettling’ aspects of the peace talks given that they bear no relation to the peace talks in 2013 between the BRN and the civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
Established in 1960, the BRN is believed to command most on-the-ground fighters responsible for most of the violence in the Deep South since 2004. It says that it does not oppose a peace process, but the process must be under ‘international standards and norms’.
Yusef told Anthony Davis from the NAR that the BRN welcomes Malaysia as a facilitator in the peace dialogue, but as it deeply distrusts the Thai state, the international community must also be involved in the peace talks.
At least three MARA delegates claimed to be affiliated with the BRN during a MARA press conference in Kuala Lumpur on 27 August 2015. However, the four who claimed to be BRN Information Department officers denied the group’s involvement in the peace talks.
In a related development also on Monday, 12 October 2015, a document claimed to be from the BRN was released online, two days after the establishment of the BRN militant wing. Prachatai however could not verify the authenticity of the statement.
In the unverified statement, the BRN disavows the ongoing peace talks between the Thai state and MARA Patani, which were kick-started in May this year with Malaysia acting as a facilitator.
The statement added that the Thai state is not ‘sincere’ in its efforts to create peace in the region.
“BRN is prepared to achieve peace through peaceful means. However, such a peace process must be dignified and sincere in its pursuit of peace. Not a peace process used as a form of political subterfuge in order to deceive and undermine the strategy of the Patani-Malay people's advancement,” said the BRN statement.
The statement further elaborated “Thailand has never accepted the fact that the root cause of the Patani problem is occupation and colonisation. For this reason, Thailand rejected the five conditions in its first negotiation with BRN. The Siamese Occupation seeks to assimilate and Siamize Malay people through an education system.”
The statement also accused the Thai state of deliberately allowing narcotics and drug abuse to run rampant in the region to destroy the youth of the Deep South.
It also stressed that the BRN’s struggles are to return the homeland and sovereignty to the Malay people of Patani in accordance to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514, which recognises the right of every nation to determine its own destiny.
Negotiations between the Thai state and armed insurgency movement have been proceeding for more than a decade, although in secret.
Analysts say that the Thai state has never been sincere or serious about negotiations, only viewing them as opportunities to identify core members of the insurgent groups. The first open negotiations happened during Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration in 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
The Malaysian government acted as a facilitator. However, these negotiations were limited and ended completely after the Yingluck administration was overthrown. The military coup in May 2014 that installed a junta led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has started peace talks again, with the first session in early June 2015.