Thailand rejects BRN YouTube demands

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BANGKOK, June 25 – Thailand today ruled out a Muslim militant group’s demands via a video posted on YouTube for withdrawal of military and police forces from the kingdom’s far South.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said it was unnecessary for the government to abide by the BRN demands and that it is the responsibility of the Thai authorities to decide if troops will be pulled out of the southern provinces.

BRN leaders agreed in the latest peace talks with the Thai security delegation in the Kuala Lumpur meeting to stop attacks and violence in the South during the holy month of Ramadan from July 9 through August 7.

The BRN announcement on YouTube, however, said they would stop attacks on the condition that Thai government soldiers, army rangers and police must be withdrawn from the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat including five districts of Songkhla province during Ramadan.

The militant group also demanded that the Thai prime minister must endorse all their latest conditions and make an official announcement by July 3.

“It seems the BRN is unable to control the situation or order a non-violence operation during the Ramadan,” Mr Chalerm said in response. “More security measures will be ordered during the Muslim fasting month.”

Mr Chalerm said he will call a meeting with the National Security Council (NSC) and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) to map out a guideline in response to the new BRN move and set a guiding principle for future negotiations with other militant groups.

Paradorn Pattanatabut, NSC secretary general, said the BRN’s new demands were only a psychological move which is unacceptable to Thailand.

The proposals were not made through Malaysia which is the facilitator in the ongoing peace talks as agreed in the latest peace dialogues, he said.

A withdrawal of military troops from the South must be requested by southern residents, and not a particular group of people, he said.

“The Southern people have not mentioned troop withdrawal so far. Therefore, we do not accept  their demands. In addition, the language spoken on YouTube was Malaysian and we doubt that the message was conveyed within the proper context,” he said.