Police fear insurgents will repeat attack; govt urged to lift martial law
Security in the southern province of Narathiwat was tightened further yesterday in preparation for the ninth anniversary of an insurgent-led raid on an Army camp in Joh I Rong district.
Pol Maj-General Wichai Kaemwong, Narathiwat police commissioner, said he had instructed police officers in all 13 districts to strengthen security both before and after January 4, the date on which insurgents raided the Army camp in 2004, snatching 413 guns and killing four soldiers. Only 94 guns were retrieved.
So far, only two of the 11 men suspected to be behind the raid have been arrested. The suspects in custody were identified as Mazuki Seng and Sa-esun Abdulroha.
Meanwhile, the Cross-Cultural Foundation has issued a three-point petition asking the government to review the use of martial law in three provinces in the deep South.
Pornpen Kongkajornkiat, coordinator of the foundation, said after the raid at the Joh I Rong Army camp in 2004, the government lifted martial law in some areas and enforced the emergency decree instead.
However, the foundation said that everybody should be under the same law.
“Hence, the decision to have certain areas under martial law should be reviewed because it authorises the military to have superior power over civilians, which complicates the situation and worsens the problems,” she said.
She said the government should allow civilians to play a bigger part in handling the unrest in the deep South and help build a democratic atmosphere so peace can be more achievable.
The foundation is also seeking clearer regulations concerning the detention of suspects so they are in line with basic human rights and the justice system. The detainees and their families should be informed of the charges, what can be done to get them released, where they are being detained, as well as when they can be visited.
Authorities concerned should amend the martial law because it was promulgated before Thailand became a democracy and needs to brought in line with basic human rights, Pornpen said.
Since martial law was put in place nine years ago, the authorities are allowed to conduct raids, searches, and make arrests without court warrants.
Between 2004 and 2012, at least 4,589 individuals were killed in the South, of whom 2,751 people were Muslims. The violence has also injured 9,071 people, of whom 2,865 followed the Muslim faith. The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre recently revealed that the attacks included 2,480 roadside and car bombings.
Of the 501 security-related criminal cases brought to court, 304 – or 60.6 per cent – of them ended in acquittals, resulting in 780 suspected insurgents walking free.
The budget for operations to contain the violence and carry out development projects this year will hit a record Bt21.124 billion, compared with Bt16.
277 billion last year and Bt13.45 billion in 2004.