Bangkok - Set up village protection units comprising volunteer, police, military and administration officials. Allow those who are arrested under the emergency powers to see a lawyer within 48 hours. Adopt policies on southern administration which respect cultural differences. Appoint local community, Buddhist and Islamic leaders to a government committee on reducing the violence in Thailand’s deep South. These are among the National Reconciliation Commission’s 14 short-term proposals on ending the insurgency in the region.
In its report, the NRC, led by former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, said the 14 measures should help calm the situation in the South if implemented. The Commission also calls for security cameras to be placed in all public places and for the creation of community-level peace committees comprising volunteers, police, military and administration officials.
The panel also said that the violence in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat escalated because of the state’s refusal to accept differences in the ways of life, religion and cultures of people in the three Muslim-dominated border provinces.
The Thai government has stated that it would accept all but one of the14 recommendations, reported The Nation.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the NRC’s proposal that the deep South be declared a weapon-free zone – where only the police and military would be allowed to carry guns - was impractical. Good people would respect the measure, but bad people would still violate the firearms ban, he said.
The Premier said reconciliation without strict enforcement of the law would not be able to restore peace. He also dismissed the notion that the government could not end the southern violence as it did not understand the Muslim way of life.
"That is not true. We have been taking care of them for decades. This government has done a lot for Muslim people."
* Thaksin hangs tough on hardline approach (Bangkok Post, July 28)
*Keep your side-arms: Thaskin (The Nation, July 28)