Bangkok dismayed as report maintains lowest tier 3 status, with US pointing to lack of progress in tackling modern-day slavery and corruption

Thailand has hit back after being blacklisted in a US report for the second consecutive year for not combatting modern-day slavery, arguing it has made serious steps to tackle human trafficking.

The ministry of foreign affairs said the US state department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, released on Monday, “does not accurately reflect the significant efforts undertaken by the government”, which had made “tangible progress”.

We commend many committed indivs w/in THgov,law enf &civ soc who are working hard to eliminate #HumanTrafficking(4/4) http://t.co/YizFXzHtgN

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BANGKOK, 28 July 2015: Bangkok’s Don Mueang made it into the record books as the world’s largest LCC airport, overtaking Kuala Lumpur International airport, Barcelona and Las Vegas, according to a Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation analysis. CAPA said Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport saw passenger traffic surge by 50% in the first half of the year, enabling it to […] Read more...
ENGAGE
Protestors Fight Thai Military Rule From The U.S.
 
American Thais and Thais supporters demand
 
political rights for students in Thailand.
 
 
Los Angeles, CA - Fifty protesters gathered at the Royal Thai Consulate today to denounce Thailand’s military junta and advocate for Thai political rights. Members of ENGAGE, an LA-based nonprofit with close ties to the Thai New Democracy Movement, organized the action demanding that all charges be dropped against the fourteen Thai students who were arrested last month for speaking out against the military coup, and demanding the release of all political prisoners currently detained under the military junta. Under the controversial Article 44 of the interim constitution, Thai civilians cannot assemble in groups larger than five individuals to discuss politics, cannot express discontent with the military coup or current political situation in Thailand, can be detained for seven days without charges or bail, and are tried in military court, as opposed to civil court with no possibility for appeals.
 
This is the second time this month that a group has gathered here in Los Angeles, adding to a growing movement of Thais and Thai supporters in the U.S. mounting international  pressure on the Thai military to stop its crackdown on citizens. “Our Thai friends are subject to military prison for what we are doing here,” said Rachel Karpelowitz an organizer with ENGAGE who lived in Thailand working alongside the New Democracy Movement. “We are here using the political rights we have to fight for democracy there.” Similar protests have been staged in San Francisco and New York.
 
The demonstration had a diverse attendance, including members of both the Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts, political factions in Thailand that have clashed in often bloody struggles for power in Thailand. Today, however, members of both sides came together to put their country first. “Right now Thailand is under dictatorship and with this situation people cannot do anything to protect themselves or their community. Even though my friends are no longer in prison, under the dictatorship Thai people are not allowed freedom of speech or assembly,” stated Chutiphong Pipoppinyo, a San Francisco based member of the New Democracy Movement. “It makes little difference whether they are in jail or not, we still aren’t free. In order to free all people we have to release all political prisoners and bring democracy back to Thailand, that is why I have to keep fighting.”
 
 
Letter of Demands:
 
We stand today in solidarity with Thai students and villagers who have been deprived of democracy, excluded from political participation, subject to injustice, and stripped of human rights, despite engaging in nonviolent action to have their voices heard under the oppression of Article 44.
As a result of Article 44, absolute authority is granted to a single entity, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. This authority has been permitted to retain the Military Courts’ jurisdiction over civilians in cases of national security crimes and violations of NCPO orders. Consequently, Thai civilians cannot assemble in groups larger than five individuals to discuss politics, cannot express discontent with the military coup or current political situation in Thailand, can be detained for seven days without charges or bail, and are tried in military court, as opposed to civil court with no possibility for appeals.
Since the 2014 coup, the junta has detained hundreds of politicians, activists, journalists, and citizens that it accused of supporting the deposed government or being involved in anti-coup protests and activities. Many of the detainees were and are held without charge, and many political prisoners continue to await trial. Persons released from military detention are forced to sign an agreement that they will not speak out about the political situation, become involved in political activities, or leave the country without permission from the junta.
We are specifically concerned with the injustices faced by our friends, students in the New Democracy Movement, facing charges related to NCPO Order No. 7/2014 and Article 116 of the Criminal Code, and similar minded political detainees. These groups have attempted to organize in support of human rights, but have faced oppression from the Thai government under the provisions of Article 44.
Thai citizens do not have the right to speak freely for themselves. It is important to utilize international accountability to ensure the students' concerns are heard. Therefore, we present the following demands in solidarity with the work of the New Democracy Movement:
 
  1. Rescind your support for Article 44
  2. Demand civil, not military, trials for all civilians
  3. Renounce NCPO Order No. 7/2014, and Article 116 of the Criminal Code
  4. Demand an end to military harassment of community and student groups
  5. Submit a request for charges to be dropped against all political prisoners including the following 14 students from the New Democracy Movement:
1.   Mr. Rangsiman Rome;  นายรังสิมันต์ โรม
2.   Mr. Wason Sethsitthi;  นายวสันต์ เสดสิทธิ
3.    Mr. Songtham Kaewpanpruek;  นายทรงธรรม แก้วพันพฤกษ์
4.    Mr. Payu Boonsopon;  นายพายุ บุญโสภณ
5     Mr. Apiwat Soontararak;  นายอภิวัฒน์ สุนทรารักษ์
6.    Mr. Ratthapol Supsopon;  นายรัฐพล ศุภโสภณ
7.    Mr. Supachai Phuklongploy;  นายศุภชัย ภูคลองพลอย
8.    Mr. Abhisit Sapnaphana;  นายอภิสิทธิ์ ทรัพย์นภาพันธ์
9.    Mr. Panupong Srithananuwat;  นายภาณุพงศ์ ศรีธนานุวัฒน์
10.  Mr. Suwitcha Thipangkorn;  นายสุวิชา พิทังกร
11.  Mr. Pakron Arrekul;  นายปกรณ์ อารีกุล
12.  Mr. Jatupat Boonpatararaksa;  นายจตุภัทร์ บุญภัทรรักษา
13.  Mr. Pornchai Yuanyee;  นายพรชัย ยวนยี
14.  Ms. Chonticha Chaeng-rew;  น.ส.ชลธิชา แจ้งเร็ว
 
We expect a timely response from the junta government regarding the demands stated above.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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International Labor Rights Forum

Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of State maintained Thailand’s Tier 3 ranking, the lowest category, in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which was released this morning. The ranking accurately reflects Thailand’s lagging efforts to combat human trafficking and will incentivize the Thai government to make greater strides in the coming year, according to a global coalition of 25 human rights, environmental and labor groups, who sent an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today.

“The Thai government seems to be realizing it must address its significant labor trafficking problem or face economic consequences,” said Abby McGill, campaigns director for the International Labor Rights Forum. “Unfortunately, the changes it has made so far are largely cosmetic. We hope this decision will underscore the urgent need to reform immigration and labor laws so they uphold the human rights of migrant workers, one of the populations in Thailand most vulnerable to human trafficking.”

There are an estimated 3-4 million migrant workers in Thailand, many of whom labor in the most dangerous jobs in Thailand’s booming export economy. Several high-profile global media exposés last year brought significant international attention to the problem of human trafficking among migrant workers in Thailand’s fishing industry in particular. The European Union issued Thailand a “yellow card” for its failure to adequately monitor its fishing industry in April, which gave the Thai government six months to improve oversight, or face sanctions.

The letter also condemned Thailand’s use of criminal defamation to prosecute journalists and human rights defenders who uncover cases of human trafficking, claiming such prosecutions inhibit the ability of victims to speak out and seek justice. This month, Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, and migrant rights defender Andy Hall, faced court proceedings in separate cases related to accusations of human trafficking, the former in the seafood sector and the latter at a pineapple canning facility.

“While there have recently been positive moves forward, Thailand has still not yet demonstrated enough political will, translated into effective implementation of actions, to change the systemic nature of its human trafficking,” said Sein Htay, president of the Migrant Workers Rights Network. “It’s important that government, industry and civil society all work together to push the Thai government toward greater enforcement against the drivers of human trafficking, and accountability for the people guilty of supporting this egregious form of exploitation.”

 

Source

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Nidhi Eoseewong

Prefatory note to the English translation: During the crackdown on red shirt protestors during April-May 2010, at least 94 people were killed and over 2000 injured. In an unprecedented event in Thai political history, the leaders who presided over the crackdown -- former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban (now a monk) – were indicted in October 2013 for premeditated murder under Articles  80, 83, 84 and 288 of the Criminal Code. The indictment was unprecedented because this was the first time that state officials – either those at the level of command or those who carried out orders in the field – were indicted for their role in a massacre. The criminal case came amidst ongoing inquests into the deaths, the majority of which have concluded that soldiers were responsible for the deaths of civilians. 

However, the indictment and accompanying hope for accountability, was short-lived. On 28 August 2014, the Criminal Court ruled that they did not have the jurisdiction to examine the case and it would be transferred to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions. The only penalties this court can impose are a restriction on an individual’s ability to participate in formal politics. Thanong Senamontri, the chief justice of the Criminal Court, wrote a dissenting opinion in which argued that this decision violated the rights of the families of those who were killed during the April-May 2010 crackdown to seek justice [for readers able to read Thai, the dissenting opinion can be read in its entirety as part of this article in ข่าวสด].

Shortly after the Criminal Court dismissed the case, noted historian Nidhi Eoseewong wrote a critique of the decision to do so and placed it within the contexts of both the historical failure to hold perpetrators of state violence to account and its potential effects on the future. In this essay, “The Past-Present-Future of the Court’s Decision”/ “อดีต-ปัจจุบัน-อนาคต ของคำพิพากษา”, Ajarn Nidhi offered an acute, and unsettling observation on the meaning of the political: “The Criminal Court’s view is that the massacre of people in the centre of the city by the people who held political office is merely a crime of politics. And when it becomes a crime of politics, the soldiers who carried out the actions have nothing to do with the crime at all.” What this means is that through their refusal to examine the case, the Criminal Court gave a legal and institutional gloss to the already normalized use of violence as a strategy of political rule.

I read this essay as a companion to the earlier one. In “The Murderous State,” originally published in early July in Matichon Weekly, Ajarn Nidhi links the court decision to a discussion of the strength of the state, the ease of state murder when the state is weak, and the normalization of state murder over time. Writing in the context of the arrest of the fourteen student activists of the New Democracy Movement at the end of June, and addressing the people rather than the Criminal Court, he traces the histories of state murder and the presence, or lack, of restraint upon the state. He concludes by urging his readers against complacency and writes, “every one of us of every political persuasion must work to make the choice of murder by the state into one that cannot be chosen, or one that if it is chosen, will cause the state to be worse off and fall to pieces.” —translator.  

******************************

 

After the massacre of the people in 2010, I heard some say, “If [we] had not killed [them], [they] would have been left to cause greater damage to the country.”

At that time, the inquiry into the matter of the “burning down of the city,” the setting fire to one large shopping center in particular, had not yet begun. Therefore, the speaker perhaps meant that, if left loose, the red shirts might engage in further “burning down of the city.” But even supposing that the subsequent inquiry and judicial process had substantiated that the red shirts were those who set fire to both private and state buildings, I still think that the state murder of the people caused greater damage to the country than the loss of the buildings that were burned down.

This is because when the state kills the people indiscriminately, no reason remains for us to assemble as a state. At a very fundamental level, each one of us is part of the state because we trust that this form will provide us with the greatest freedom from harm. Outside the boundaries of the state, we may easily be violated and our lives easily taken. Outside the boundaries of the state, there are no mechanisms to punish the act of murder and therefore no instruments to suppress murder.

The state therefore cannot murder. Or there must, at a minimum, be detailed regulations governing the act of murder by the state in order to serve as a check and restraint on it. Murder by the state is more dangerous to the masses than a man killing his wife, a robber killing his victim, or even a terrorist killing a crowd.

This matter is unrelated to either the color of one’s shirt or whether a regime is democratic or dictatorial. If the state is to retain a sufficient threshold of existence, then it cannot engage in the murder of the people.

I am thinking about this issue due to the recent movement by the students from Dao Din, the Liberal League of Thammasat for Democracy, and other groups. If you believe that the student movement has (odious) people behind it, then you may believe that the arrest and detention of the students and the hunting down of those behind them will perhaps subdue the movement. You may believe that they will be unable to find additional people to stand behind them.  But if you believe that student movement is born out of conscious, freely-chosen actions, then you will know well that the arrest and detention of the students or those who are accused of being behind them will fail to halt their open and direct opposition of dictatorial power. This is likely only the beginning and the future is forbidding for all sides.

I believe the latter.

Therefore, I worry that as this movement expands, the state will again murder as it has done many, many times prior. This is not because the state is stupid, or has not learned the lesson that public mass murder severs every last remaining iota of the foundation of their legitimacy completely. But they may murder because they have no other choice. Those who hold power, whether they are soldiers or civilians, tend to turn to murder when they run out of other political choices.

Think about it: faced with the choice of announcing the dissolution of parliament and holding new elections or murdering the people, the civilian government [of Abhisit Vejjajiva] still chose murder. In spite of this, when they lost the elections [in 2011], they did not have to face accountability for any of their crimes. Will a government that has come from a coup accept the end of their rule along with a multiplicity of punishments to account for their crimes?

Murder is the therefore a frequent choice of the Thai state. Murder is too easily chosen and the aspects of Thai culture that may restrain the state’s impulse to murder grow weaker and weaker in turn.

Murder is an instrument of power of outmoded states, including the Thai state. A state is not able to kill people as it wishes because it is strong. On the contrary, ancient states killed people as they wished because they were weak. They used public murder as a pedagogy of tyranny to teach their subjects to be afraid of the state. A range of horrible killing methods was used to ingrain fear into the hearts of the subjects.

In what way is the murder of the people an instrument of a weak state? Let me offer the revolt of the Isaan people, or as it is known, the Phi Mi Bun Rebellion, as an illustrative example. During the fifth reign, a group separated themselves off to make a new village with a new social order not under the control of the state. They were very easily suppressed, particularly in comparison with the Saya San rebellion in Burma, which involved a larger number of people. The state could have simply dispatched soldiers to surround them until they ran out of provisions. They would have had to willingly accept defeat. But the government during the fifth reign did not possess sufficiently modern forces to act in this fashion. In addition, they had to swiftly put down the rebels in order to avoid giving the great powers a reason to intervene.  These reasons all emanate from the weakness of the state, and therefore they chose to use violent suppression.

The violent tactic they selected was to send their small modern army to suppress the rebels. They fired large modern weapons upon them and the strength of the explosions caused bodies to bound up into the air and fall to the ground as corpses. The villagers were out of avenues of struggle and fled in chaotic disorder.  All that remained was for the soldiers to chase and capture them in groups  … the end.

Even though having a modern army means that the state has a monopoly on violence, public execution still takes place. Public execution is used to make the citizen-subjects afraid. Once the transformation [from absolute to constitutional monarchy] took place, execution moved into private.  But public execution returned as a method to intimidate and create once again when Sarit Thanarat [1958-1963] seized power.  

The people were once again massacred in October 1973. But Thai culture had developed to a point at which open murder by the state was no longer accepted. Those who ordered the killings became known as the “three tyrants” [Thanom Kittikachorn-Narong Kittikachorn-Praphat Jarusathien].

Perhaps because that cultural power remained in Thai society, those who planned the massacre three years later [on 6 October 1976] attempted to paint it as the work of loyal citizens. This is notwithstanding that the attack and taking over of Thammasat University necessarily depended on state officials and state weapons. For example, there is a photograph of a uniformed police officer who has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and is pointing a gun in front of him (the Thai Health Promotion Foundation would oppose his smoking as more dangerous to health and society than murder by the state). Those who seized power during the coup on the evening of 6 October 1976 denied any involvement in the massacre that took place that morning (Yet they raced to immediately issue an amnesty bill).

At least until 6 October 1976, state murder still had to be carried out in a concealed fashion. They did not dare to do it brazenly in the open.

The massacre by the state in May 1992, even though it was not concealed, resulted in those who were involved having to cease their political role entirely. Further, the event created a realization among the Thai public that made it possible for the government of Anand Panyarachun to expediently remove high-ranking soldiers.

I should also mention that ever since the Communist Party of Thailand turned to armed struggle, the state has continuously murdered the people. These murders were not open, or were made to look as if there had been armed struggle with an “enemy” who also had a weapon. In truth, a large number of unarmed people were brutally killed. This included bombing hill tribe villages with napalm, throwing people out of helicopters in order to silence those who were tortured while they were interrogated, and arresting and burning people alive in red drums. But when these murders were revealed after 1973, they were not accepted by Thai society. This indicated that the culture that had restrained murder by the state in Thai society still retained some strength.

But the power of that culture was weakened greatly during the state massacre in April-May 2010. At the very least, the view of a large number of citizens was that the killing of the people by the state caused less harm to the country than the burning down of a shopping mall. Murder by the state was not a bad thing in and of itself. There were still some conditions under which it was not considered depraved to kill. Therefore, there are conditions under which the state may perhaps massacre the people in whatever which way.

The Court of Justice ruled that the murder by the state in 2010 was not within its jurisdiction. This then made the murder a political offence rather a criminal offence, as it is normally. This is tantamount to expanding the conditions under which the state may kill. The political conditions inevitably stretch to give the state the legitimacy to kill in many other situations … until restrictions can hardly be found. This ruling therefore amounts to the placing of a curse on Thai society that the day of wriggling free from perpetual state murder will be permanently deferred.

In sum, the Thai cultural and the judicial apparatuses have grown weaker and weaker in the struggle with state murder. This constitutes a profound loss for our country.

The modern state possesses a great amount of incomparable power. The doctrine of Dhammaraja may be a bridge to nirvana or may have had the power to restrain the vile exercise of power by the ancient state that was unable to amass power in the overflowing fashion practiced by the modern state. But because the modern state has surplus power, and there are not solid regulations to keep the state under control, either regulations about the accession to power or the exercise of power, the people must cooperate to force the state to strictly follow the rules. They must not easily surrender to justifications offered by the state. If they surrender easily, it will lead to another massacre of the people in order to prevent a building from being set on fire.

This is the reason why the Attorney General must appeal the ruling of the Court of Justice regarding the case of premeditated state murder in 2010. This matter has become quiet and I do not know whether or not the Attorney General appealed as they announced they would. If they did not appeal, I do not know if they have run out of time to do so. If this case is not appealed and it falls away, jurists need to think together about how to bring this case back to trial within the judicial process.

Even though this unfinished case may not be able to reach those who ordered the brutal killings, it is important. This case could be a starting point to be able to reach them in the future. It would count as the first case of murder by the state in which we are able to use the judicial process to hold the perpetrators to account. Each soldier who took action during the massacre in 2010 held power in his hands. Consequently, if all of them get off scot-free, they will become those who will order murder once again without any thought or hesitation.

My view is that by the same principle, we should abolish the death penalty. Statistics from various societies around the world prove that the death penalty does not aid in suppressing violent crime. We should not allow there to be any conditions under which the state is permitted to kill the people. Murder by the state is a crime under every circumstance. If state officials kill people to protect their own or other peoples’ lives, there must be a process of strict auditing by an outside agency to determine whether or not it was a situation beyond control that could not be avoided.

A person who carries a knife into a police station in order to attack an official does not need to be shot and killed. Instead, the person can be shot in order to disable his capacity to attack.

In every instance in which the state kills, it must be proven without a doubt that legal murder is truly lawful and there was no way to avoid it. If the state no longer retains the authority to murder, I believe that state officials can lawfully kill, but if and only if they are circumspect and employ careful judgment.

In a critical time like this, every one of us of every political persuasion must work to make the choice of murder by the state into one that cannot be chosen, or one that if it is chosen, will cause the state to be worse off and fall to pieces. There is nothing more important than this. State murder in the hands of a dictator poses a grave danger [to society].

Source: นิธิ เอียวศรีวงศ์: รัฐฆาตกรรม : มติชนออนไลน์

Translated by Tyrell Haberkorn.

 
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The U.S. State Department has followed up on its controversial proposal to take Malaysia off its blacklist of countries failing to combat modern-day slavery, leaving it open to criticism that politics is swaying the often-contentious rankings in its annual human trafficking report. Read more...
BANGKOK, 27 July 2015: Thailand’s Cabinet approved, last Tuesday, a reciprocal agreement with Myanmar to allow visa-free visits by passport holding citizens of both countries for up to 14 days. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Thanasak Patimakorn, is tasked with signing the agreement later this week in Chiang Mai. An agreement for mutual visa-free […] Read more...
BANGKOK, 27 July 2015: THAI will provide roundtrip flights for Thai Muslims joining the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. The flights will facilitate travel from Narathiwat in the deep south to Medina, Saudi Arabia and Hat Yai to Medina, Saudi Arabia. Flight departures are set for 16 to 22 August outbound and return flights from […] Read more...
BANGKOK, 27 July 2015: To mark THAI and Tourism Authority of Thailand’s 55th anniversaries, this year, the national airline hosed 100 children on flights to Bangkok in a project shared with the national tourist office. It was part of the airline’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme that offered three-day field trips, 21 to 23 July, to children living […] Read more...
On the face of it, the Thai junta’s attempts to limit the sale of alcohol around schools and universities is laudable. The reality, however, could see hundreds of bars and restaurants being put out of business in the coming weeks if authorities refuse to backtrack. Read more...
Asaree Thaitrakulpanich and Thaweeporn Kummetha
We just need faith, and soon everything will be back to normal, like it was before.
 
Near the end of Latitude No. 6, a music video montage of the main characters overlaid with this song suddenly jumps out at the audience. This song from Latitude No. 6, a film sponsored by the military’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), could have been written by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. Of course, the NCPO song explicitly asked for faith in the military, while Latitude No. 6 attempts to be more subtle in its message by over-cloying it with unimpressive romantic plots.
 
Director Thanadol Nualsuth collaborated with UCI Media to produce Latitude No. 6. In it, a half-white Bangkokian (Peter Corp Dyrendal) goes to Patani with his niece (Shinardi Anupongpichak) because of his job at the Islamic Bank of Thailand. He falls in love with a Muslim woman (Prissana Kumpusiri), daughter of a Muslim teacher. Meanwhile, a teenage love triangle develops between a Buddhist girl (Weeraporn Jirawechsuntorngul) and two Muslim boys (Natcha Jantapan, Pakin Buansirilak). This subplot turns out much less interesting than it sounds.
 
Just three days before the film’s premiere on June 26, Dyrendal’s wife posted a plea on Instagram, asking her husband to come home after he had run off with another woman. The public expressed outrage at this, some pledging to boycott Latitude No. 6. In response, a deputy director of ISOC expressed concern that the scandal of Peter’s promiscuity would affect filmgoers’ perception of “unity” in the film. Wow, another “national unity” propaganda film! We haven’t seen that before! 
 
Even with on-site filming in Pattani, Latitude No. 6 is problematic because it fails to accurately address the root of the violence in the Deep South. Instead, it relegates the conflict to an ever-present, random bomb threat that affects both Muslims and Buddhists. In this respect, at least, it is a step forward from the Thai mainstream media’s portrayals of mustachioed Muslim Malay “bandits” as being the only perpetrators of violence.
 
However, the absence of negatively-stereotyped Muslims and the portrayal of insurgents as faceless do not excuse the fact that the military, another trouble-maker in the Deep South, is shown in purely positive terms. 
 
The soldiers in the film are jolly men who find lost children, visit wounded bomb victims, sacrifice their lives defusing a bomb, patrol for the safety of villagers, exchange jokes with locals, and help construct a mosque. The human rights crimes committed by the Thai military and discrimination by the Thai state are definitely not addressed in the film. 
 
The film misrepresents the conflict as religious and ignores the actual cause which is the struggle of the Patani people under the rule of Siam. It tells the audience that yes, love and friendship cross religious lines. It also shows the very barest elements of Malay culture. In many respects, Latitude No. 6 is a flimsy travel brochure full of doctored photos
 
As a Thai movie, we can expect that the characters in Latitude No.6, supposedly Muslim Malay, are not played by Malay-looking actors, and therefore, do not speak local Malay dialect in the film. Even worse, some of the Muslim characters speak Thai with southerners’ dialect, aka thong daeng. It shows that the filmmakers didn’t spend time with the Malay people long enough. If the Muslim Malay in the Deep south want to speak Thai, they speak it like Bangkok people.
 
The lack of local representation is reminiscent of mid-century Westerns, where both cowboys and “Indians” were played by white actors and actresses, and the real issues of the “frontier” were pushed aside for shallow displays aimed at portraying different cultures as a spectacle.
 
However, Latitude No. 6 does address the irrational fear of Thais from outside the region towards the area. In one scene the main character mistakenly assumes a Muslim man’s wooden box is a bomb, and dives for cover. The box is actually a violin case. 
 
Latitude No. 6 does an impersonation of a warm, feeling movie, but is actually as unfeeling and callous as the title itself. To the filmmaker, Latitude No. 6 is just a line on a map, that when sliced, offers some pretty shots. Pretty shots are as deep as it goes, and the truth about the conflict is just covered up with 120 minutes of cringe-worthy, cheesy fluff and cardboard dialogue. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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John Draper

A recent piece of investigative journalism by The Bangkok Post has provided evidence of Thailand acquiring an advanced electronic surveillance capability. Traditionally a non-NATO treaty ally of the United States, Thailand has provided high-level intelligence to the United States, as the Wikileaks Cablegate Thailand cables made clear. In exchange, Thailand was likely able to rely on obtaining intelligence from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-gathering network consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, especially regarding areas of shared concern, for example, the situation in the Deep South or high-value targets.

However, the breakdown of relations with the United States around the end of last year, culminating in the statements made by US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel in January 2015, clearly posed a dilemma for Thailand: how to obtain a reliable surveillance state capability equivalent to that of a more advanced country. Thailand would have faced only two choices.

The first was to source a cooperative solution from a major power such as Russia, home to Kaspersky Labs, which is rumored to possess close links to the KGB, or from the People’s Republic of China. However, Thailand is not a traditional ally of either, and the prospect of introducing advanced Russian or Chinese e-warfare capabilities into Thai security apparatus facilities may have posed a greater threat than the advantages. This possibility of a compromised intelligence network including command and control facilities may also be a reason for the delay in purchasing the three Chinese submarines.

The second option would have been to source an advanced electronic surveillance suite from off-the-shelf vendors operating in a murky legal environment where such software can be classified as ‘military equipment’. Like many other countries developing towards an advanced police state, including the usual suspects Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, Thailand apparently chose this option, becoming by December 2014 the customer of the now notorious Hacking Team, a Milan-based information technology developer of intrusion and surveillance capabilities. This development was practically announced in February 2015, when the Thai military advertised the recruitment of officers to join a new ‘Cyber Warfare’ unit under the Directorate of Joint Operations of the Royal Thai Armed forces.

Hacking Team’s main product is the Remote Control System ‘Galileo’. However, the Hacking Team was itself hacked on July 5, 2015, revealing all its internal emails and source code, which The Bangkok Post has partially analysed from the Wikileaks site.

Figure 1: Part of (the Heavily Compromised) Hacking Team’s Presentation

The Wikileaks Hacking Team data for Thailand shows Hacking Team’s software suite was acquired by the Royal Thai Army and the Corrections Department of the Royal Thai Police in cooperation with Israel-based Nice Systems and partner Thai firms Placing Value, Netsurplus and Samart Comtech.

The suite includes all the capabilities you might expect from an advanced intelligence agency. These include the ability to covertly collect emails, text messages, and phone call histories; perform keystroke logging; uncover search history data and take screenshots; record audio from phone calls; use phones to collect noise and conversations by remotely switching on the telephone; activate the telephone’s camera; and hijack telephones GPS systems. The Remote Control Software (RCS) was capable of utilizing a number of known and ‘Zero-Day’ (unknown to anti-virus companies and previously unused) hacking exploits against software including Adobe Flash.

Companies such as Hacking Team have been heavily criticized for selling hacking software to repressive governments, such as Sudan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. In particular, Hacking Team sold software to Sudan in 2012, which led it to being investigated by the United Nations Panel on Experts for the Sudan for infringing a UN prohibition on selling “‘military … equipment’ or ‘assistance’ related to prohibited items” according to UN Security Council resolutions 1556 (2004) and 1591 (2005). Hacking Team’s response was to evade questions.

The RCS has been detected by counter-intrusion experts on the software of activists and journalists, perhaps one of the purposes behind its purchase by the Royal Thai Army Military Intelligence Command. 

Figure 2: Suspected Government Users of Hacking Team Software

The development of military-grade e-warfare/surveillance state capabilities in a free and democratic country can be justified only if there exists a regulatory framework. For example, Malaysia is also apparently a client of Hacking Team, as is South Korea, but both have civilian governments and regulatory frameworks regarding national security. However, Thailand possesses a weak framework, as The Bangkok Post makes clear in quotes sourced from the leaked Hacking Team emails: Thailand is “characterised by poor legislation and no LEA [law enforcement agency] or intelligence connectivity to telecom service providers".

This means that there is a legal vacuum and the Royal Thai Army at present does not have the capability to directly interface with approximately 10 internet gateways provided by telecommunications operators in the same way as the US did via the NSA Warrantless Surveillance Program (2001-2007) and successor programs, which Congress has recently begun to roll back. However, according to The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s military government is introducing legislation, the proposed Cyber Security Bill, designed to permit much broader warrantless application of electronic surveillance (under Section 35). And, one stated goal of the military government is a single gateway to the internet based in Bangkok, which would facilitate the development of the surveillance state.

The Bangkok Post notes that National Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Niran Pitakwatcharahas has come out against the use of electronic intelligence and e-warfare against Thai citizens:  "It is a violation of democratic principles, in which the state does not have the right to threaten the privacy of individuals… Thailand needs to be aware that it is at risk of violating the right to privacy and freedom of expression, under the disguise of 'national security' concerns…” Crucially, Dr. Niran argues that there is a need to differentiate between the needs of the state and the needs of the government. However, under Thailand’s military governments there has traditionally been no distinction between the two.

It has been noted that unrestricted electronic mass surveillance creates a ‘Culture of Fear’ among the citizenry in countries which have implemented advanced electronic intelligence and surveillance operations in an arbitrary and unchecked manner. Unfortunately, at present Thailand under Section 44 (a ‘Rule by Diktat’ provision in the present Interim Charter) does operate in such an atmosphere. Electronic mass surveillance can target both schoolchildren and adults, as detailed in the US 2014 Human Rights Report on Thailand and discussed here.

Also, the advanced e-warfare options offered by software such as the RCS offer the capability to spy on any citizen at any time without the citizen even being aware – a development of the advanced police state known as ‘panopticism’ and described in the novel 1984. It should be noted that 1984 cannot be read in public in Thailand. And, now, perhaps, we know another reason why. 

Figure 3: The ‘1984’ Panopticon Effect – Users of Smart Phones Are Similar to Prisoners

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A high-school executive has scolded a grade 12 student activist who refused to take a Civic Duty class exam as being mentally ill while an education minister told media not to pay much attention about her.

According to Matichon Newspaper 23 July 2015 Issue, one of the executives of Triam Udom Suksa School in central Bangkok told the media that Nattanan Warintarawet, aka. Nice, an outspoken anti-coup student activist at the school, is mentally ill.

Matichon reported that the unidentified school executive said that Nattanan’s condition has not been treated properly for the last two years. The school staff added that the student’s parents asked the school to take care of her and teach her as normal students.

The statement from the school executive was made after Nattanan on 20 July 2015 submitted an empty exam paper on Civic Duty Class and wrote on her facebook profile that she rejected the do the exam because the subject forces narrow mindset upon people.

She also wrote on her facebook profile a statement to Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, saying that her action is an act of civil disobedience against the authorities because Civic Duty class is forced upon students by the dictatorial regime of the junta.

“Civic duty class is a subject that the dictatorial regime forced upon us. It forces a narrow mindset and denies the freedom of thoughts which is crucial for democracy,” wrote Nattanan.

Nattanan Warintarawet (second right), along with the Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS) members, reads statement against the nationalistic 12-Thai values in front of the Ministry of Education last year.

According to the student, the first question of Civic Duty exam paints the picture of the 14 anti-junta activists recently released most of whom are students as threats to Thai identity while the second question also equate people who supported the activists as harmful to ‘Thainess’ as well.

“The determination of people who were calling for the release of [the 14 activists] is downgraded to one of the wrong choices in the exam as it is not fostering Thai identities,” the student added in her message to the PM.

In her statement, Nattanan also criticised the nationalistic 12 Thai values, definitions of good citizens that the junta laid out after the coup, as hypocritical and manipulative since the junta themselves came to power by illegitimate means.

She added that there are many positive aspects of Civic Duty lessons and the 12 Thai values. However, she is against the manipulation of a narrow mindset through educational system and the fact that the junta is imposing its own definitions of ‘goodness’ upon others.

On Friday, 24 July 2015, Nattanan posted another statement on her facebook profile saying that she does not want an apology from the teacher who claimed that she was mentally ill. She also urged that people should not blame other teachers of Triam Udom Suksa School who are not involved in the event.

On Thursday, Adm Narong Pipattanasai, Minister of Education, told media when asked about Nattanan’s civil disobedience that the media should not make a big deal out of the matter since she is only one of 10 million other students in the nation.       

Nattanan is a former Secretary-General of Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS), a progressive student activist group who have been campaigning for the Thai education reform.

In December 2014, she was invited to talk in a program called ‘Investigating Hot Issues’ on the Army’s Channel 5, but was removed out of the program after she raised questions about the legitimacy of the May 2014 coup d’état with a member of the junta’s appointed National Reform Council.

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BANGKOK, 24 July 2015: Two of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s campaign commercials have won awards at the recent Pacific Asia Travel Association’s annual PATA Gold Awards. The viral hit “I Hate Thailand” took home a Gold Award for marketing in the social media category, while a second PATA Gold Award went to the “Discover […] Read more...

A large crowd gathered in downtown Bangkok to protest the government’s plan to build a coal-fired power plant in a touristic southern province on the Andaman Coast.

On Thursday afternoon, 23 July 2015, about 300 people gathered in front of the Government House in Bangkok to urge the military government to halt a plan to build a coal-fired power plant and a pier to transport coal in the southern province of Krabi.

The crowd comprised many Krabi natives, environmental activists from Save Andaman from Coal network, and entrepreneurs of the tourism industry of the province, including, others. 

They demanded that the ongoing process to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) on the project should be halted.

Moreover, the group requested the government to call off the planned state auction on the coal-fired power plant project next month and that the authorities should form a committee to study the feasibility of other sustainable ways to generate energy.

Anti-coal-fired power plant gatherers stayed in front of the Government House until the evening on Thursday.

Before the crowd dispersed, a military officer who claimed to be an advisor to Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, told the protesters that the PM has agreed to follow their demands. However, there was no official confirmation from the authorities.

The group and relevant state officials are expected to meet on Friday morning to draft a formal agreement regarding the project.    

On the same day, activists from Youth People for Social Democracy Movement, Thailand (YPD) issued a statement to support the anti-coal power plant protesters.

In the YPD’s statement titled ‘Against Coal-fired Power Plant in the Country and Support Alternative Energy Sources’, the youth activists said they are concerned about the lack of public participation and consultations on the project.

“The integrity of environment and clean air are public property that no one can claim and destroy,” said the YPD’s statement.

Since early 2014, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) proposed to build a controversial 60 billion baht (about USD 1.8 billion) coal-fired power plant with 870 megawatts (MW) capacity and a coal seaport adjacent to it in Nuea Khlong District of Krabi Province.     

The plan is viewed favourably by the junta. However, it has been heavily criticised by many environmental groups and local residents who fear the environmental impact from the plant. According to Gen Prayut, the power plant will guarantee Thailand’s energy security.

People who are against the coal fired power plant project gathered in front of the Government House on 23 July 2015  

 

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A provincial court in northern Thailand sentenced three anti-establishment red shirts to three-years imprisonment each with the jail term suspended for hanging a banner with a message deemed seditious.

On 22 July 2015, the Provincial Court of the northern province of Chiang Rai sentenced Odd Suktako, Tanomsri Namrat, and Suksiam Jamtan, three red shirts from Mae Saruay District of Chiang Rai to four years in jail each under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, Thailand sedition law, for hanging a banner with the message viewed as sedition.

The court, however, reduced the jail term to three years because the defendants were cooperative during the trials and the jail term was suspended for five years.   

The police issued the arrest warrants against the three on 13 June 2014, but they were later released on bail. The prosecutors indicted them under Article 116 for hanging a banner on the pedestrian bridge in Muang District of Chiang Rai with a message reads “These is no justice in this country, we should be separated as Lanna State” (Lanna is an ancient name of the Northern Kingdoms of Thailand) on 26 February 2014 .

According to the verdict, it was clear that the three were among six individuals who put up the seditious banner on the pedestrian bridge from the CCTV video footage.

The judges ruled that the message on the banner stirred up social and political conflicts among people given the political circumstance then.

The court added that the claim of the suspects that there is no justice in the country after the criminal court in early 2014 rejected to grant arrest warrants against the key leaders of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters was false.

The judges of the provincial court further stated that by expressing such claims, the defendants also insulted the Criminal Court’s ruling to deny the arrest of the PDRC leaders then.              

Article 116 of the Criminal Code states that whoever makes apparent to the public by words, writing or any other means anything which is not an act within the purpose of the constitution or which is not the expression of an honest opinion or criticism (a) in order to bring about a change in the laws or the government by the use of coercion or violence, (b) in order to raise confusion or disaffection amongst the people to the point of causing unrest in the kingdom, or (c) have people violate the law, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.

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By Yuval Ginbar, Legal Adviser, Amnesty International

I'm a legal adviser, so not exactly a stranger to courts. I've even been in Thai courts before. But I still find the scene surreal. I was in a Bangkok military court on 7 July 2015, and I'm talking to 14 young students and activists who face the might of Thailand's military justice system.

They are on trial for “seditious" acts like gathering at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre to stand and stare at a clock for 15 minutes. It was a silent protest to mark the first anniversary of the day the Thai army took over on 22 May 2014. The few minutes they managed to hold their protest – before being dispersed – could eventually lead to seven years in prison. They have been charged with violating a ban on political gatherings of more than five people, one of many draconian laws the army has imposed since seizing power.

The military authorities allowed two diplomats and myself to talk to the 14 students and activists before the hearing on extending their detention. I'm a professional human rights activist but I feel very humble in the presence of these 13 men and one woman. They look so young. They are all wearing prison uniforms - a cream coloured t-shirt and brown shorts. Their hands are shackled. But they are totally fearless. They protested on 22 May, and others protested again when charges were pressed against five of the original protestors. Sitting in the second row I see "Dave", who was grabbed by plainclothes members of the security forces, dragged by his hands and feet and then kicked and beaten when he fell to the ground. He has a dislocated cornea to show for it.

I'm even more worried about the one woman among them - "Kade", whose violent handling by security forces caused damage to the lower part of her spine. She had to be rushed to hospital from the police station where she had been taken, but it took over an hour for an ambulance to be called. Once Amnesty staff - both from the International Secretariat and the Thai section - had visited the 13 male students and activists last week I was among those who went to visit ”Kade”. But she wasn't to be found at the women's prison - she had been admitted to the prison hospital nearby to undergo a check-up. I could only see her sitting (and smiling) through a window. In the courtroom her smile was broad enough to show through her surgical mask. But she told me she was still in hospital and would probably need surgery - when she went out for a bathroom break, she could hardly walk and had to be supported by two officers.

Still, neither “Kade” nor any of the other students would request bail - they demanded to be released unconditionally.

The students said they were treated well once detained. They were clean and relaxed, and showed no signs of fear. They said their arrest was unlawful, that they were not shown any warrant, that there was violence. They rejected being charged and arrested in the first place, and being tried in a military court. They said the government was trying to silence them. I couldn't help but think that it was doing a very bad job of it.

I looked at these brave, brave young people and was full of admiration. I did what I could to help defend their rights. I told them again - as we'd told them during the prison visits - that Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience, that the movement is campaigning worldwide to secure their immediate, unconditional release, and that civilians should never face military courts.

Before the hearing, I also managed to greet their family members. Some of them have been threatened by the authorities and told to ensure their children stay away from politics, a fact which one of the lawyers brought to the court.

The hearing lasted about an hour. Three of the students were allowed to speak, at some length. One of the three judges occasionally stepped in though. For instance, when “Rome” said "we don't pose a threat to society, only to the military government" he was told to stick to the point, which as far the judges were concerned was arguments for release without bail.

The judges then consulted. When they returned, one of them read out their decision: Release without conditions! There is a strict code of conduct in the courtroom, which was the only reason why I didn't jump up and hug everyone.

This is a victory. But the charges weren't dropped. The activists told me the army just wanted things to quieten down in view of the international attention, reflected in the massive media presence outside and around a dozen diplomats inside the courtroom.

The families looked more relieved than the students themselves. All thanked us. I do hope our campaigning helped, but there's a long way to go. The charges must be dropped, as must be the ridiculous laws that allowed the farce to take place at all, such as the prohibition of political gatherings of five people or more.

So a good day in court - I wave “goodbye” to the students, to the families. But we're not going away. We'll continue campaigning until human rights are fully respected and genuine smiles return to the faces of the people of Thailand, “the land of smiles”.

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On day four of the Koh Tao murder trial Police Colonel Cherdpong Chiewpreecha from Police Division 8 took to the stand to testify with regards to the CCTV footage of both the victims and the accused. The last CCTV footage of the victims was seen at 1am when Hannah Witheridge entered the AC Bar at […]

The post Koh Tao murder trial – court goes into recess at 10.15pm on day four appeared first on Samui Times.

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BANGKOK, 23 July 2015: Airports of Thailand reports its June data showed increases in both aircraft movements and passengers at the six airports under its management. AoT reported, Wednesday, that all of its supervised airports handled 8,044,421 passengers up 37.79% from 5,838,276 during the same month last year. Overall aircraft movements also increased by 25.33% […] Read more...
Thaweeporn Kummetha, Hussan Tohdong and Muhammad Dueramae

A Key PULO member talks about his 18 years behind bars, during which he helped to further peace talks.

Haji Sama-ae Thanam, former leader of the PULO (Patani United Liberation Organization) separatist movement, speaks to Prachatai about his 18 years in prison in 4 different facilities until his release on this year’s Hari Raya (Eid al-Fitr). During his time behind bars he helped to further peace talks in the Deep South. Here, he talks about the prospects of peace for his homeland.

Ma-ae Sa-a, also known as Haji Sama-ae Thanam, ex-leader of the PULO Patani separatist movement, was sentenced for life for treason. His sentenced was continually reduced until he was allowed parole, and later released with condition on this past 17 July, on Eid al-Fitr.

During his 18 years of imprisonment, Haji has been keeping up with the events happening in the Deep South. His role in peace talks, both those organized by the Thai government and those by PULO, show that he has been trying to push for both sides to talk with each other.

Haji talks about his role in peace talks and his views on achieving peace in the Deep South. Thaweeporn Kummetha, Hussan Tohdon, and Muhammad Dueramae visited his home in Thanam Village, Thanam Subdistrict, Panareh District, Pattani province. He had arrived home only 4 days before.

This interview was conducted in Malayu. The interviewers hope that through the use of local language, this interview will distinguish itself from other media that is gathers information through Central Thai.

Haji Sama-ae Thanam,” former leader of the PULO (Patani United Liberation Organization) separatist movement

 

18 years behind bars

Haji Sama-ae Thanam tells us that he was arrested in 1997, and in 1998 was sentenced for life. During his 18 years in prison, he was incarcerated in a total of 4 prisons: Bangkok Remand Prison, Bangkwang Central Prison, Central Songkhla Prison, and finally Central Yala Prison before being paroled and released.

“During my time in prison, I had a clean record. I never hurt anyone, so wardens respected me. I also helped other inmates, especially those who hadn’t adjusted to prison life yet. I helped others who were sick, without caring about their religion or ethnicity. I read them the Du’a [in Islam, prayer to call upon God] in a provincial Muslim doctor way.

During my entire time in the prisons, I was treated well by the wardens. I was never hurt nor tortured.

“I wept when my lawyer, Somchai, was forcibly disappeared”

During my trial, Somchai Neelapaijit, former president of the Organization of Muslim Lawyers, came represent me in court, along with lawyers Godae Gotae and Kamolsak Liwamoh.

I respect and admire Somchai very much, since he is a sincere person who sacrifices himself for others. It’s very hard to find a lawyer like him.

The last time I saw lawyer Somchai was at the Bangkwang Central Prison. He said to me that he would help me as long as he was living, and would never abandon me. Not long after that I heard about his enforced disappearance, and I was extremely distraught and sad.

Normally, I don’t even cry when someone I know dies. But Somchai’s enforced disappearance made me weep.

Role in Pattani peace talks

During the period of unrest in the Deep South, I wrote a letter to Pol Lt Col Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister at the time, suggesting solutions to the violence through peace talks.

I presented the letter through Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya the defence minister at the time. Only a month later, I received news that the letter had reached the hands of the prime minister, and I got a response as well.

The reason I sent a letter to the PM was because I used to be a coordinator for peace talks between government representatives and Tongubiro Gotolilor, the former secretary general of PULO from 1991 to 1993. At that time, Lt Gen Kitti Ratanachaya was commander of the 4th region army.

The government representatives at that time included Gen Oknit Muensawad and Maj Gen Charin Amonkeaw. The first time they met to talk was in Egypt, and in the second, Syria.

“All conflicts end with negotiations”

Peace talks were arranged because PULO views it as an internationally-accepted way to relieve conflicts. Conflicts all over the world end with negotiations and discussions at the tables of peace talks.

After Pol Lt Col Thaksin Shinawatra received my letter, he immediately tried to arrange a peace talk. He sent contacts to Malaysia to get in touch with Wangadeh Jehman, former president of the Bersutu Group, an organization that fights for the liberation of Patani. However, Wangadeh refused to talk to Thai government representatives.

They refused because they were not ready to discuss peace talks. They didn’t trust that Thai government were being sincere in their intentions. At that time, the group was also afraid that if they came out to talk with Thai government representatives, they could be arrested like I was. Even I, who used to be a coordinator and middleman, was arrested.

Later, during Gen Surayud Chulanont’s office as PM, there started to be more peace talks, sponsored by Mahathir Mohamad, former PM of Malaysia. However, none of these peace talks were successful.

When Yingluck Shinawatra was PM, there were the first open peace talks, but they still weren’t successful.

When Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha took over, he sent an official to me to ask for my input in achieving peace. They asked me who would be a suitable representative from the Thai side peace talks.

I replied that it had to be someone whom the PM trusted the most, whether it be a military officer, police officer, a civilian officer, or anyone else. He had to trust that person to resolve any problems that arose in a peace talk.

What does “real peace” look like?

Personally I think that the process towards peace needs to place importance in the “inner people.” By that, i mean the people living in Patani. We have to ask them what they need, and how they want to achieve it. The process towards achieving peace cannot just end at the peace talk’s discussion table.

Presently, the Council of Syura [Malay: Majlis Syura Patani, an umbrella organization Deep South insurgent groups] has been established. However, Syura still needs to listen to the voice of the “inner people.”  

The Council of Syura is different from MARA Patani [Malay: Majlis Amanah Rakyat Patani, another umbrella organization for Deep South insurgent groups]. Many people do not accept the actions of MARA. In addition, the name MARA is the same as many other organizations from Malaysia, so there are a lot of misunderstandings about MARA being a Malaysian organization.

The establishment of the Council of Syura is a good sign for the progress for peace in Patani, like a budding flower about to bloom. The first peace talk between the Council of Syura and the Thai authorities occurred on 8 June 2015 that just passed.

How should the peace talks proceed, in order to progress?

If the peace talks in Patani are to progress, then the Council of Syura must be able to convene at least 3 to 4 different groups to talk. Every group must be invited to discuss, since each group has their own needs.

It’s not counted as a failure either, if unity is not achieved. It could be counted as an “incomplete success.” It’s having finished building a house, but some people are still chiseling. The house is livable, they have to endure the hammering noises.

What the peace talks really need?

Let me refer to a topic that was brought up in the 8 June 2015 peace talk. As far as I know, the Thai authorities had one proposal, while the Council of Syura had three.

The Thai authorities proposed a ceasefire during Ramadan, which produced favorable results, even if it was an unofficial request. This year’s Ramadan was one of the most peaceful ones so far, especially when we compare it to the last two Ramadans. This shows that this year’s peace talk is more effective that they one in 2013.

As for the Syura’s 3 proposals, the first one asked for the state to guarantee the safety of Syura peace talk participants. The second proposal said that the issue of Patani peace talks must be elevated to the status of national concern, and had to be approved by the Parliament. The third proposal said that the state had to officially acknowledge the Council of Syura.

The only way to solve the protracted conflict in this area is to hold open discussion about it. The discussions should follow His Majesty the King’s royal initiatives of understanding, accessing, and developing the people. Developing is especially important, because citizens living in developed areas around the world have a good standard of living, good jobs, and good education. Those areas do not foster conflicts.

* This article is translated from Thai to English by Asaree Thaitrakulpanich 

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Today the Koh Tao murder trial resumed in the Koh Samui provincial court. The mothers of the accused, Wei Phyo and Zaw Lin flew in from Myanmar for the hearing. The two migrant workers are standing trail for the murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge and the murder of David Miller last September in Koh […]

The post Koh Tao murder trial resumes in the Koh Samui provincial court appeared first on Samui Times.

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