The eight-member delegation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has agreed with the Thai government’s peace talk with the Mara Patani, an umbrella organization of several separatist groups in southern border provinces.
The delegation which is currently visiting Thailand has conducted an inspection trip to the southernmost border provinces to observe the situation, to talk with local community, religious leaders and government officials and visit local people.
The delegation comprises of Ambassadors and Representatives from Bahrain, Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and the General Secretariat.
The delegation visited Sai Buri district in Pattani on Feb 27 where Fourth Army chief Lt Gen Piyawat Nakwanich briefed the delegates on the “Bring People Home Project” implemented by the government for Muslim communities.
The OIC delegation also visited Yala where they had a meeting with officials from the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC) regarding the educational and social programs being organized in the South.
On Thursday (March 1), the delegation met with a special delegation of the Thai government at the conference room of the Pattani Tambon Administration Organization before proceeding to meet with residents of Sai Khao community in Khok Pho district.
Turkey’s permanent representative to the OIC Salih Mutlu Sen said that this was the first visit to the Deep South for several members of the OIC delegation and, after having observed the situation on the ground, they felt that the real situation was quite different from that painted in the report, especially the sincerity of the Thai government regarding economic, social and educational development in the region as well as the attempt to promote cultural pluralism in the region.
Mr Salih said the OIC had been monitoring the peace talk between the Thai government and Mara Patani via Malaysia, a member of the OIC and the facilitator of the peace talk.
He expected that the peace talk would be successful in parallel with development efforts and urged Muslim people in the Deep South to take part in the development efforts and to resolve their conflict through peaceful means.
Meanwhile, the OIC released a statement on the orginzation’s official website about the OIC Delegation’s visit to southern Thailand to assess situation of Muslim communities.
“The OIC delegation welcomed these developments as a positive step forward and expressed the willingness of the OIC to contribute to the process of confidence building, dialogue and economic development in the region through the support of OIC organs and agencies.”
“The delegation called upon authorities to continue to take measures that would improve the lives and livelihood of communities living under emergency law in the South and that security measures are not disproportionately affecting Muslims in the region,” the statement reads.
The OIC delegation welcomed the steps of the Thai government, in cooperation with Malaysia, for the constructive dialogue with Muslim groups in the South in order to develop a road map to resolve the existing problems through dialogue.
“The delegation reiterated the stance of the OIC that such dialogue should expand and be more inclusive so that other organizations and groups representing Muslims in Southern Thailand can participate,” the OIC said.