A new life for a former separatist
"It has never occurred to me there is today. I am very happy to be with my wife and my two-year old kid. I think that they will have a better life because I don’t have to run and hide again," said a smiling Suriya Manu as he walked out of the Na Thawee provincial courtroom on September 5.
It was the first taste of real freedom and also a memorable day for the former militant when the court in Na Thawee district of Songkhla ordered his release from detention after having undergone "re-education" programme for just four months.
On hand to give him a warm welcome were his family and close relatives. Then he returned home in Tambon Ban Na, Chana district of Songkhla in the company of his family.
Speaking to Isranews reporters, Suriya recalled the tough and dangerous life of having to run and hide from security forces during the past five years he spent as a member of a separatist group. The turning point of his life came when his elder brother one day visited the "re-education" or training programme organized by the forward command of the Internal Security Operations Command for separatists who defected to the government.
After that visit, his brother told Suriya’s family of his impression of the training programme and its merits. Suriya was not impressed but his family finally persuaded him to join the programme which they believe would give him a new life.
Suriya was one of four defectors who volunteered to join the programme. They represent the second class of the trainees. The first class comprised Royalee Bueraheng and Yaza Jehma.
Suriya said he was told by other "trainees" that he had to undergo "re-education" to change his behavior and also occupational training for up to six months. But he only spent four months in the training camp and was set free.
The ex-separatist said he would make use of the occupational training he received while in custody to open up a window repairs shop in his hometown in Chana district.
The training programme for the defectors was made possible by Article 21 of the Internal Security Act which was meant to entice separatists to stop their struggle and to turn themselves in to the government. The defectors will be spared prosecution but will be required to undergo training for at least six months after which they will be set free.