Deep South insurgent groups must merge into one: junta leader

The junta head has said insurgents in Thailand’s restive Deep South must stop all violence and merge into one group before initiating peace talks with the Thai government.
 
On Monday, 29 August 2016, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta head and Prime Minister, spoke to the media about discussions on the Terms of Reference (ToR) for talks between the Thai government and Mara Patani, representing insurgent groups in Thailand’s restive Deep South, which will be held on 2 July in Malaysia. The junta premier said that the insurgents have to unite as one group first before peace talks could begin, reported Matichon Online.
 
“If both sides [government and insurgents] lack confidence in each other, it (the peace talks) will not work out. The government is always sincere but the problem that is those [insurgents] we’re talking to are not united as one group” said Gen Prayut. “There are political branches, militant branches, and other smaller groups. They have to merge into one first. … Otherwise, even a hundred peace talks would not end the conflict.”
 
According to Matichon Online, the general added that the government was aiming at imposing Thai language education in local schools in the Deep South. He reasoned that by learning Thai, local Muslim Malays would be able to continue in higher education in Thai public universities and that would solve the conflict at the root cause. 
 
This is despite the fact that compulsory Thai courses in local schools is an issue of great concern to the insurgents as they believe that such an education policy would uproot their ethnic identity. 
 
The junta head also stated that Mara Patani has to earn the government’s confidence, starting by ceasing all insurgent activity, especially in the safe-zone areas, following the promise which the group gave to the government.
 
 
Authorities investigate a bomb attack on 23 August at a hotel in the Deep South province of Pattani. The explosion killed one person and left 30 injured. The attack occurred the night after Gen Prayut announced that the government would continue peace talks with Mara Patani only if the insurgency is stopped. (Photo courtesy of Matichon Online)