Cross Cultural Foundation
The guns have been robbed, men made disappeared, it’s time for a change:
Negotiation is a common solution Peace process must begin from collective actions between the state and all parties
Embargoed until 21 January 2011
The clashes between armed insurgents and army officials at the Company Ror 15121, Taskforce 38, Narathiwath on 19 January 2011 left several deaths and injuries among the officials at the military base. It was also reported that war weapons including 50-60 guns and ammunitions have been robbed. The incidence may not be significantly related to the seventh anniversary of the 2004 gun robbery, but it does send a grave warning to those in state sector and civil society that the incumbent working approaches so far have failed to bring about peace and simply been implemented with no unity. Hence, the ongoing violent armed conflicts continued.
The Cross Cultural Foundation would like to convey our deepest condolence to the surviving families of the officials who died and got injured in the clashes. We hope these losses can be taken as a lesson to learn in order to promote a more peaceful and sustainable solution.
Meanwhile, 21 January 2011 had been scheduled for the delivery of the Bangkok Court of Appeal’s verdict on the case related to the disappearance of Lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit. But the reading of the verdict had to be postponed for the second time and has been rescheduled to 7 February 2011. And in December 2010, the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) announced its decision regarding the case against a police general and other 18 officials who had been accused of abusing the alleged offenders in the 4 January 2004 gun robbery, the incidence of which has given rise to the onslaught of violence and conflicts in the Southern Border Provinces. To date, more than 4,000 lives have been shed including officials and innocent civilians. After more than six year spent by Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and another over three years by the NACC, it was only announced in late 2010 that no evidence has been found to prove the accusation of torture.
The gun robbery and the enforced disappearance of the lawyer of the alleged offenders in the 2004 gun robbery merely reflects physical and armed violence and a déjà vu of the losses of lives and properties among general population, teachers, state officials belonging to both Buddhism and Islam regardless of their gender and age. A number of children, women and older persons have become victims in the armed conflicts. The fresh gun robbery in 2011 and a lack of progress in important legal cases related to the Southern Border Provinces including the disappearance of Lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, the Tak Bai case, the Kruese Moqsue case, the I-Payae shooting show simply more doubts on the ability and effectiveness of the existing state mechanisms to bring the perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile, ideas are abound as to the proposition of special autonomy region as a solution, reform of unjust laws and the pilot revocation of Emergency Decree in Mae Lan District, Pattani province to be replaced by the Internal Security Act. The structure of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC) has been reformed after the enforcement of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center Act to promote more civilian roles in the administration of affairs in the Southern Border Provinces. In addition, there has been improvement of state agencies’ performance and change of attitude among governmental officials as well as an increase in budget and the existence of comprehensive development policy. In the past seven years, the government has spent not less than 1.4 trillion baht (US$ 4.8 billion) on these initiatives.
CrCF advocates negotiation with a mediator from outside as a way to solve the structural violence which has been dragging on thus far. We wish the government to review and adopt the new approach to peace which is applied internationally. Negotiation should be used in lieu of military operation. Negotiation shall bring us to a common solution. And the peace process has to be adopted genuinely by both parties and allows the presence of international and domestic experts in collaboration with the state, insurgent groups and local civil society organizations. The state has to show its sincerity and determination to negotiate with all parties with patient to solve political strives. It should encourage all sectors to stop using violence to demand their political ideology. In the past seven years, the guns continue to be robbed and men are still disappeared.