Governors to look into Sonthi's claim of communist hand in Southern unrest
Governors of two of the three southernmost provinces yesterday said they would look into Army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin's suggestion that former communist insurgents might be playing a role in the current unrest in the region.
Responding to Sonthi's remarks on Friday, Narathiwat Governor Pracha Tehrat said a connection between those behind the ongoing violence and former communist insurgents was possible.
"I've instructed local officials to investigate, especially in areas where the former communists used to have their stronghold. In the old days, the movement consisted of many ethic groups," Pracha said.
Yala Governor Boonyasit Suwannarat said the ongoing southern violence stemmed from the distortion of the Muslim faith. "However, officials will conduct an in-depth investigation to update the situation on these former communists who had surrendered a long time ago," he said.
However, Pattani Governor Panu Uthairat said he had not seen any evidence to support the alleged linkage. The current unrest is rather different from the communist movement in southern Thailand several decades ago, he added.
A former communist insurgent, Seng, who declined to give his last name, said it was possible that some ex communists could be linked to the current violence.
Seng, who now lives in the southern province of Songkhla, said a former insurgent leader named Jin Peng used to have many Muslim followers in the region.
"However, the involvement would be minimal, if any, since most of these people are now very old. Yet, they could have helped by providing guidelines based on their previous experience," he said.