Main Thai insurgent group renews conditional peace talks offer

BANGKOK: One of the main separatist groups fighting an insurgency in Southern Thailand on Monday renewed a conditional offer to enter peace talks with the government.Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) is thought by observers to be the main faction responsible for the decades-old insurgency in the Muslim-majority southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

The conflict has claimed more than 6,500 lives since it escalated in 2004.

A wave of attacks hit the provinces on Friday hours after King Maha Vajiralongkorn signed a new constitution as a step towards ending military rule. The army reported no casualties, however.

The junta said in February it had reached a breakthrough with insurgent groups on the creation of a safe zone.

But experts said the government had been negotiating only with Mara Pattani, an umbrella group comprised of exiled insurgents said to have no real power on the ground.

BRN, reiterating demands it had made in October 2015, said on Monday that any peace dialogue it was involved in would have to be overseen by observers from abroad and mediated by a third party accepted as neutral.

Srisompop Jitpiromsri, the director of Deep South Watch, a body that monitors the conflict, said it had identified BRN as “the party responsible for the majority of violence over the last ten years.”

“There might be issues preventing the group from entering peace talks. But in the long term if the government wants lasting peace in the region they must include BRN in any negotiations,” he said.

Bangkok-based analyst Anthony Davis, at security consulting firm IHS-Jane’s, said the government had excluded BRN because the group had not identified itself as a party to the conflict before Oct. 2015.

“The position of the …government has also been consistent that this is a domestic conflict and that Thailand has no need for any external assistance or mediation,” he said.

Voters in the most heavily Muslim parts of Thailand were among the few to reject the constitution in last year’s referendum.

The three southern provinces were part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before being annexed by Thailand in 1909.

(Additional reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; editing by John Stonestreet)

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This entry was posted in Muslim majority Southern Thailand, Thailand - Thái Lan, Unrest in Southern Thailand and tagged , , , , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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