Armed parties of the conflict in Southern Thailand must declare ceasefire and stop arbitrary search, arrest, and detention of local people under special counterinsurgency laws in response to the COVID-19 outbreak

Statement:

Armed parties of the conflict in Southern Thailand must declare ceasefire and stop arbitrary search, arrest, and detention of local people under special counterinsurgency laws in response to the COVID-19 outbreak

Released on 30 March 2020

(Re posted in English)

According to Deep South Watch, 7,111 persons were killed and 13,266 injured during the 15 years of armed conflict in the southern border provinces (SBPs) of Thailand. Local people in the SBPs have suffered greatly from direct harms of armed violence and indirect damages on their surrounding environments. Moreover, many of them have also been subject to arbitrary search, arrest, and detention whereas some fell victim to torture and extrajudicial killings by the Thai security forces. This long history of human rights abuses has caused significant impacts on the local people- both physically and psychologically, thereby posing difficult challenges for achieving peace in the region.

Both governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations have joined hands in easing the impacts of the armed conflict. However, many affected families still cannot access any help or protection of their basic political, economic, and social rights including their right to health. The ongoing economic recession, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, has worsened their vulnerability and exposed them to greater risks of infection.

Duayjai Group and other undersigned organizations urge relevant groups and organizations to take the following actions:

  1. All armed parties of the conflict, including the BRN, must declare a ceasefire and end all forms of armed violence. They must ensure that they pose no obstacle to the work of public health officials on saving people’s lives. The ceasefire must be enforced with the genuine will to restore sustainable peace in the region.
  2. The Thai government, especially the Internal Security Operation Command Region 4 (ISOC4)’s Forward Command, can contribute to resolving the current crisis by terminating their military operations to demonstrate their commitment to help end the COVID-19 pandemic, which indiscriminately impacts all persons regardless of their gender, age, or religion. They must respect basic human rights, including the right to due process and access to justice, by ending arbitrary search and arrest without criminal warrants and releasing all persons detained under special counterinsurgency laws.

All government agencies and private organizations have taken effective measures to provide humanitarian assistance, such as food, accommodation, shelter, healthcare, and employment, for the affected population. However, the armed parties of the conflict are fostering the climate of distrust and fear which will discourage local people from taking advantage from such services. Duayjai Group and other undersigned organizations, therefore, call for collaboration from all sides to end this pandemic by removing all obstacles for local people on accessing humanitarian assistance. This potential collaboration between the BRN and ISOC4’s Forward Command will reflect the genuine will on both sides to bring sustainable peace to this region.

Undersigned organizations:

  • Duayjai Group
  • Cross-Cultural Foundation
  • JASAD Group
  • Patani Human Rights Organization Network

For further information, please contact Ms. Anchana Heemena, Head of Duayjai Group, at +66-81-8098609.

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