Student group calls on govt to pull troops out of South
The Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) has called on the government to withdraw troops from the restive South, revoke the emergency degree and opt for peace talks to solve the insurgency in the region.
The SFT in association with the Community Potential Foundation on Thursday held a seminar entitled "Marohso Chantarawade and Comrades: Siam rebels or Pattani hero warriors?"
Wattana Wan, representative of the Turn Left Organisation, said the clash on February 13 in Narathiwat, which left 16 insurgents dead with no casualties among security officials, has sparked local hatred against state officials and caused many people to join the insurgency.
He said condemning any party would not bring about solutions. The insurgency is triggered by a group of people upset about past incidents and the establishment of the Thai state, he said, adding that the rebels don't want to be ruled by the state.
"I suggested that the government withdraw all troops from the area and let the locals decide what kind of administration they want,'' Wattana said.
Artef Sohko, coordinator of Youth for Development, said the government cannot deny that there has been a liberation movement organised by some local people against the Thai state.
"Wednesday's clash left 16 insurgents dead. Even though they were defeated, they have won public sympathy,'' he said.
After beating the people of Pattani long ago, the Thai government has been trying to change the local residents. "If you ask locals there, you will know what they want,'' he said.
He disapproved of the government's enforcing of Article 21 of the security law to allow insurgents to enter into plea-bargaining arrangements and to undergo training for six months, saying the best solution is to go to the negotiable table.
Chalida Thacharoensak, a representative of Community Potential Foundation, said that at the root of the insurgency is discrimination against locals through the enforcement of the emergency decree and security laws.
"Locals know what is happening. The state cannot achieve victory by deploying hundreds of thousands of troops there. It is time to tell the truth. At the same time, the warriors should call for a truce and enter peace talks for the sake of the community,'' she said.