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The most important Thai separatist armed group announces contacts with the Government

August 17, 2019

BANGKOK, Aug 17 (Reuters / EP) –

The main armed group of the Muslim majority region of southern Thailand, Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), has announced the beginning of contacts with the Government of Thailand and the approach of its claims with a view to the opening of formal peace negotiations.

BRN officials have explained that on Friday there was a meeting with a government delegation in a country in the Southeast Asian region in which they requested the release of all prisoners convicted of crimes related to the insurgency and a transparent investigation into the alleged abuses perpetrated by security forces.

With this meeting a path could be opened towards formal peace negotiations, according to the source of the BRN, which nevertheless stressed that the process is at a very early stage. “If the formal peace negotiations are the banquet, these secret meetings are tantamount to taking the cow to the kitchen. But the cow has not even been slaughtered,” Pak Fakir, 70, has said in a statement to Reuters. BRN leaders. “The Thai state is like a greasy and slippery eel,” he has riveted.

The general in charge of contacts with the insurgents of the south of the country, Udomchai Thamsarorat, did not want to confirm this meeting with the BRN, which however would have already maintained contacts with the military board that ruled the country under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan Ocha, who continues in office after the recent elections.

The conflict in the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – in southern Thailand – has claimed about 7,000 lives since 2004, according to estimates by the Deep South Watch supervisory group.

These three provinces were part of a Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand annexed these territories in 1909. Some rebel groups struggle to form an independent country in the southern region of Thailand, a country in which the majority of the population is Buddhist.

“The root of our problem is colonization and this issue has never been addressed in previous contacts,” said Fakir, who said the BRN is not responsible for the bomb attacks on August 2 in Bangkok that injured four people. Two individuals from southern Thailand have been arrested.

“We are not going to attack outside the three southern provinces because we do not want to be perceived as terrorists. We have our territory and we have no reason to get out of it (…). It has to be other people responsible,” he said. .