Special Report: First Round of Dialogue to Reduce the Level of Violence in Southern Border Provinces

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The Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Thailand, Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanatabut, will lead a delegation to hold the first round of dialogue with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate, known in short as BRN. 

The dialogue is scheduled to take place on 28 March 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It comes after Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanatabut, representing the Thai government, signed the General Consensus Document on Peace Dialogue with the representative of BRN on 28 February 2013.

The Government explained that the signing entailed the beginning of a dialogue process between the National Security Council and groups holding different views and ideologies to that of the State. It does not confer any recognition upon the groups taking part in the dialogue. In addition, all actions taken with regard to this matter have been entirely in line with the framework of the Constitution of Thailand, which stipulates that separatism is not legally permissible.

In the first round of dialogue, the Thai delegation will comprise officials from security agencies and representatives of the private sector. In preparation for the dialogue, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told the delegation to emphasize talks only, not negotiations, in an effort to initially reduce the degree of violence in the three southern border provinces, namely Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat.

Lieutenant General Paradorn revealed that the Prime Minister stressed the Government’s sincerity in resolving the southern situation through peaceful means. The issue on the possibility of establishing a “Pattani City State” would not be raised for discussion. He hoped that violence in the deep South would decline after the 28 March dialogue.

In her keynote address at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand 2013 Annual Correspondents’ Dinner with the Prime Minister, held on 11 March 2013 at the InterContinental Bangkok Hotel, Prime Minister Yingluck said that she had held a successful Annual Consultation with Malaysia and that both Thailand and Malaysia agreed to strengthen the framework for cooperation that would promote more trade and investment while stepping up security in the border area.

She stated that Thailand appreciated Malaysia’s support for the peaceful resolution of the problem in the southern border provinces. The immediate objective is to reduce the level of violence and prevent innocent deaths. The Prime Minister described dialogue as the best way forward for peace, as it would encourage greater understanding between all parties.

She pointed out that Thailand’s position has been supported by many of its friends in the international community. During her recent visit to Sweden and Belgium, the leaders of both countries, as well as the European Union, all commended and supported the efforts undertaken by the Thai government to engage in a peace dialogue.

“We believe that dialogue with all stakeholders and groups is an important step forward. And we must continue on this path in order to achieve long lasting peace and stability,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet, during its meeting on 12 March 2013 approved the extension of the Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations imposed in the three southern border provinces for another three months, from 19 March to 20 June 2013. The possibility of replacing the emergency decree with the Internal Security Act in more areas in the deep South is being considered by all relevant authorities.