MARA Patani today (March 23) issued a statement declaring that the Fourth Army’s Bring People Home project and the planned establishment of safety zones in the Deep South were not relevant to the peace talks between the group and the Thai government.
MARA Patani, the umbrella organisation which has been engaging in a peace dialogue with the Thai government, held a press conference in Malaysia this morning.
The move followed a revelation by Gen Aksara Kerdphol, chief of the government’s peace talks delegation and an advisor to the prime minister on Feb 15 that both sides agreed to designate a district in the Deep South as a pilot safety zone.
Uztas Shukri Hari, head of MARA Patani Peace Dialogue Panel, read out the statement on the current peace dialogue process, saying the ongoing discussion between MARA Patani and the Thai government is still at the technical level.
The agreements reached at the talks have not been endorsed by the joint working group Peace Dialogue process (JWG-PDP).
“Hence, all the agreements are not yet final,” he said.
Uztas Shukri said MARA Patani is open to all views and recommendations from the people toward rights to self-determination.
He said the group has confidence in the Thai peace dialogue team mandated by the Thai Prime Minister and is committed to solving the conflict through the current peace dialogue.
“However, we are concerned over certain statements and actions by the 4th Army Commander (Lt Gen Piyawat Nakwanich) that contradict the peace dialogue process,” he said.
Uztas Shukri also mentioned the Fourth Army’s Bring People Home project and the designation of safety zones in the three southern border provinces, saying that the two issues “are not at all related to the peace dialogue process between MARA Patani and the Thai government.”
The much-publicised Bring People Home project encourages southern militants to surrender and return to their home villages to live a civilian life.