Peace talk inconclusive but atmosphere is positive
The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist group has confirmed the five demands they earlier put forward to the government via the YouTube social media and claimed that the demands are the wishes of the local people in the far South.
The demands were accepted by the government’s delegation for further discussions among agencies concerned because some of the demands are important and concern several agencies, according to Lt-Gen Paradorn Pattanathabut, secretary-general of the National Security Council and head of the government’s delegation to the peace talk with the rebel group, who was the first to query the BRN representatives about the demands after they were posted on the social media a day ahead of the second round of peace dialogue scheduled on April 29 in Kuala Lumpur.
The demands include: release of all suspects held on security-related charges; revoke all the arrest warrants issued for suspected insurgents and their sympathizers; recognize the BRN as a liberation movement; upgrading the status of Malaysia as mediator instead of facilitator and the inclusion of Asean members and the Organisation of Islamic Conference as witnesses to the ongoing peace dialogue process.
The second round of peace talk ended without any resolution. Lt-Gen Paradorn said his delegation rejected the demand to upgrade Malaysia’s status to that of the mediator, claiming that the status of being a facilitator was agreed upon by the two opposing parties and Malaysia on February 28 when the three sides signed the peace dialogue process in Kuala Lumpur.
Dato Samsamin, former director of Malaysia’s intelligence agency, noted that the upgrading of Malaysia’s status had to receive the endorsement of all three parties.
The Thai delegation also repeated their call for the BRN to try to curb violence in the restive region as a show of sincerity towards the peace process, said Paradorn. Responding to the call, the BRN delegates said they were in the process of communicating with the insurgents in the field to reduce violent incidents.
An informed source who has access to the Thai delegation disclosed that the Thai side assured the BRN that authorities concerned were in the process of revoking arrest warrants on several suspects. As for suspects facing warrants issued by virtue of the emergency decree, the warrants will be revoked once the suspects show up in person with authorities, said the source, adding that officials had been instructed to prepare a full list of people facing arrest warrants issued by virtue of the emergency decree or the Criminal Precedural Code.
For this matter, the BRN said that their demands for the revocation of all arrest warrants and release of suspects held in custody should be non-conditional.
"They (BRN) demanded that we follow their demands first and talk about conditions later on, but we did not give them any promise," said the source.
Other sources however said that it was not unusual for the BRN to make high demands.
Srisompob Chitpiromsri, one of the Thai delegates, said that the atmosphere during the talk was positive. He is confident that the BRN’s demands will not pose an obstruction to the dialogue process.
The next round of talk is scheduled on June 13.
The Thai delegation to the peace talk comprises ten members while the BRN side is made up of seven members with six old faces and one new –Ahmad Ben-awan.
Caption : The meeting of Thai government's delegation before joining the second round of peace talk in Kuala Lumpur.