Govt scheme 'transformed my life'
Former insurgent believes there is a peaceful way out
An insurgency suspect, who has joined a plea-bargaining scheme under Article 21 of the Internal Security law, is urging his counterparts to join the scheme, saying it is real and not a hoax.
The man (whose name is being held back) has confessed to having taken part in several violent incidents, but now all charges against him have been dropped.
He told The Nation about how he was released on bail after being arrested in September 2011, and urged to join the plea-bargaining scheme while standing trial. After studying the offer, he decided to join the scheme even though he was told that four other suspects had refused to take part.
"I thought I would take the risk, and if the scheme didn't work the way I was told it would, I would have nothing to lose. I'd continue with my trial," he said.
He started undergoing training for six months from April 27-October 26 last year.
Nathawee Provincial Court then issued an order for him to be released on October 29, and said all charges against him were dropped and his cases would not be reopened.
"I began to appreciate the training two months after I started. I totally believe the scheme has put an end to the charges against me when the court read out the order that all my cases have been dissolved. I am confident that the scheme is real and would like to tell my comrades to take part in it. The soldiers are not lying about this," he said.
After being freed, the man decided to pursue his dream of setting up a computer-repair shop in Yala and is now living happily with his wife and children. He was taught how to fix computers as part of the scheme.
"Now I look at soldiers more positively. Before undergoing training, I was afraid of them and wanted to avoid and hide from them. But now I'm liberated of this fear and know that they are sincere people.
"We can achieve peace without violence. There is a chance for true peace in the restive South," he said.
The former suspect said he had not made any contact with insurgents after undergoing the training, adding that he had to swear not to reveal their secrets.
"As to whether I'm living in fear, yes kind of. But at the end of the day life goes on and I have to make it. I can get killed no matter where I live. We can't escape death, but living in this world is a true test in Islam," he said.