Open letter 1 March 2013
Subject: Peace talk is encouraged to ease restive situations down south
ATT: Her Excellency the Prime Minister, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra
It was reported that on 28 February 2013, a “general consensus on the peace dialogue process” was signed by three concerned parties including the Secretary General of Thailand’s National Security Council (NSC) in behalf of the Thai state, a representative from the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN) and Secretary General of Malaysia’s National Security Council. It was an attempt to seek solutions for the chronic conflicts that have lingered for nearly a decade causing more than 5,000 deaths.
In essence, the Thai NSC Secretary General is appointed by the cabinet to take the lead to supporting favorable environment creation to peace promotion in the Southern Border Provinces. All the three signatories agreed to engage in peace dialogue with who have different opinion and ideologies from the state and with stakeholders in solving in Thailand’s SBPs under the framework of the Thai constitution. Meanwhile, Malaysia pledged to act as facilitator and safely measures shall be provided to all members of the Joint Working Groups throughout the entire process.
Having been working to provide legal help and access to justice in Thailand’s SBPs in cooperation with local organizations, the Muslim Attorney Center Foundation (MAC) and Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) would like express our support for such an initiative by all concerned parties. We also commend the decisions and leadership made by the Prime Minister to set out a clear policy to adopt nonviolence as an approach to solve armed conflicts.
It should pave the way for more concrete peace talks with people whose opinions and ideologies may differ from the Thai state. Should the talk with the group succeed and help to quell violent incidences in the SBPs, it should have led to more talks with other concerned groups to bring about peace across the board under Thailand’s constitutional framework.
MAC and CrCF also feel appreciated with cooperation and facilitation to advance peace talks offered by the Malaysian government as they have hosted forums for various parties to talk and helped to nurture mutual trust among all parties in the past and in the future. It should help to develop a non-armed conflict zone in Thailand’s SBPs preparing for the emerging ASEAN community in the near future.
Though concrete implications of the signing remain to be seen, and it may not immediately bring all armed conflicts to an end, it marks an opportunity for the transition of armed conflicts to peaceful solutions. More efforts and genuine support have to be solicited various organizations, state and private, in Thailand to make the deal deliver.
Therefore, MAC and CrCF urge that the Thai PM come up with a framework supported by a cabinet resolution to pave the way for peace dialogue and to encourage government agencies at all levels to come to term with the approach. In addition, public hearings should be organized with participation from people of all sectors in Thailand to explore ways to forge peace in SBPs. More efforts should be made to ensure that international community be informed of progress in the negotiations and Thailand’s determination to effectively solve the problems. It should help to provide for sustainable development in Southeast Asia and other countries.
MAC and CrCF hope that the signing of the agreement shall lead to peace building in SBPs, a lasting peace which is founded upon mutual respect, promotion and protection of human rights of all people regardless of one’s race, religion, gender, social and economic status, or political ideology without any discrimination.
Thank you very much.
(Mr.Sitthipong Chantharawirote) (Ms.Pornpen Khongkachonkiet)
Muslim Attorney Center Foundation Cross Cultural Foundation