The military should have no role in Patani

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

On the 13th February 2016 the junta’s thugs banned a meeting to discuss ways to achieve peace in Patani. The meeting was organised by the Federation of Patani Students and Youth – PerMAS and was due to be held in the Yala Teachers’ Training College. The excuse for the banning of this meeting was that it referred to the word “self-determination”.

It comes as no surprise that the Thai military is against all forms of self-determination, either in Patani or in Thailand as a whole. The junta has constantly banned meetings to discuss the proposed draft constitution in Bangkok.

Numerous Thai constitutions contain an offensive clause about Thailand being a state which can never be divided. This shows the intention of the Thai ruling class to maintain tight control over all areas within the current border. It is an attitude which is an obstacle to peace in Patani because the long-running conflict here is caused by Bangkok’s oppression of the Muslim Malay majority. Anyone with a sprinkling of intelligence can understand that respect for the culture of Muslim Malays and their ability to determine their own future is the key to resolving this bloody war which has claimed too many lives already.

Yet despite this, the military has a leading policy and practical role in Patani, even representing past civilian governments in negotiations with insurgents. Under the military, the word “self-determination” is banned.

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A recently published report by The Cross Cultural Foundation and the Duay Jai Group in Patani showed that since 2014 there have been 32 known complaints of torture used by the Thai state on Muslim Malay prisoners. This torture is “systematic”. Prisoners have been repeatedly kicked, punched and beaten with blunt instruments. They have been stripped naked. Some have had plastic bags pulled over their heads until they couldn’t breathe. Some have been water boarded. Electric shocks and foot burning have been used. Many have been deprived of sleep. They have been threatened with summary executions. They have been told that their family members will be harmed. On some occasions the soldiers or policemen were drunk. There is clear and credible documentary and photographic evidence to support all these accusations.

The picture which is being painted here is of thugs in uniform rampaging with impunity across the region. Not surprisingly, not a single member of the security forces has ever been punished for these crimes. Under the various special security laws they can never be prosecuted. Added to this is the fact that military thugs like Prayut are running the government. For them, they know only one response to the grievances of Malay Muslims: systematic and violent oppression. Such oppression will only spawn more desperate and violent actions against the Thai state.

Naturally, the junta denies the torture allegations. They have a long record of telling lies about all their actions since the military coup of 2014.

The junta also sent uniformed thugs to intimidate and pay a visit to the human rights defenders who published the report.

As we have stated on many occasions in this blog site, the only peaceful solution to the conflict in Patani is to withdraw all soldiers and police from the area and to initiate widespread discussions about self-determination by citizens of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. This means that in practice the determination of government policy and any negotiations need to be taken out of the hands of the military.

For the full report on torture in Thai see http://bit.ly/1Xrdam5

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