Security forces should also be spared from violent attacks
Violence has not de-escalated in the restive far South as the insurgents appear to have targeted government officials instead of the civilians since the signing of a peace dialogue deal between the government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist group in Kuala Lumpur on March 28.
However, some senior government officials who were involved in the peace dialogue process maintained that there was a sign of improvement since the start of the peace talk as most of the violent incidents, mainly bomb attacks, were directed at members of the security forces.
After the historic signing of the peace dialogue deal, the government representatives suggested the BRN to show its sincerity by instructing the insurgents not to attack civilian targets which include heavily-populated areas, teachers, women, children and the elderly.
Members of the security forces be they soldiers, para-military rangers, police or defence volunteers all want safety of their lives just like the civilians although they are more vulnerable and are at greater risk because of the nature of their jobs. But that does not mean that they should be allowed to take the risks or allowed to get killed or maimed by the insurgents. Like the civilians, these officials also have their families, parents, wives and children.
The targeting of the security forces by the insurgents is not a conventional warfare by a guerrila warfare. This is not a just war game as the security forces are like an easy moving targets while the insurgents, without their uniforms, are like shadowy figures and can easily melt into the crowd of civilians after mounting an attack on the officials.
De-escalation of violence should not only be limited to the civilian population but should also cover members of the security forces if the peace process is to move forward. Even if the BRN may claim that its group was not responsible for the recent surge of attacks against the armed officials, it cannot be easily verified.
As for the government, if it wants the insurgents to scale down their attacks on both the civilians and security forces, then it should reciprocate by stopping abuses of the special law. Sincerity toward the peace process must come from both sides of the conflict.
It appears that the government was in a rush to conclude the peace deal with the BRN and, therefore, was not well prepared. The military which has been playing a pivotal role in security affairs in the deep South were left in the dark about the peace talk deal until the day when the deal was to be signed.
Personally, I do not believe that the insurgents’ shifting of target to focus on the security forces was attributable to the peace deal. The new breed of insurgents have always wanted to attack the security forces and are still capable to attack civilian targets whenever they want to as they knew that the military still harbour sceptism towards the peace process.
The insurgents are fully aware that military leaders are impatient and will not tolerate if their men are increasingly killed or maimed despite the peace deal. Once, they lose the patience, there is a possibility that the peace process can be derailed.
"We will hit back as hard!" Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwannatat was reported to have bluntly said in response to the kidnap and murder of a marine, Pvt Ma-e-la Tohlu, by the insurgents in early April in what was believed to be a revenge attack against the killing of 16 insurgents in a botched raid of a marine outpost in Bacho district of Narathiwat on February 13.
Caption : The funeral of a soldier in far South of Thailand.
Note : This article was translated from the editorial of Isra News (Please see in Thai http://bit.ly/ZckWQk)