Ceasefire?
Share this on

Ceasefire?

The Nation has some excellent coverage on the ceasefire announcement by the United Southern Underground:
/>

Speaking through a translator, the spokesman announced an end to all violent attacks and separatist activities in the Muslim-majority region.
/>
/>He added that any armed groups resisting the order would be considered renegades and could be eliminated.
/>
/>”We want to see peace and stability in the region. All forms of attacks has come to an end,” the spokesman said. Names of the leaders were unknown.
/>
/>He said the ceasefire goes into effectively on July 14, 2008. However, the videotape was not broadcast until today at noon. The statement was aired today through Thai TV5, an Army-run station and TV 7.
/>
/>But attacks in the restive region continue unabated with police headquarters in Pattani and Yala coming under bomb attacks this past week.
/>
/>Former army chief and defence minister Chetta Thanajaro claimed credit for the so-called breakthrough.
/>
/>Chetta said he has been carrying out secret negotiation with members of these eleven “underground” movements operating in southern Thailand and abroad.
/>
/>Chetta said the decision was made “unconditionally” and the spokesman did not make any demands as to what deals, if any, was reached between the Thai state and the eleven groups he claimed to represent.
/>
/>Hurman Right Watch’s Sunai Phasuk said Chetta may have “jumped the gun” with the announcement but added that only time will tell.
/>
/>”His credibility is on the line. Besides, there has been nothing to suggest that the militants on the ground would let up with their activities,” Sunai said in a telephone interview.
/>
/>Place of the recording is said by an intelligence official as in Germany.

/>BP: Thai TV also report it was in Germany, but the persons concerned actually are in “neighbouring countries” – mentioned on TPBS that Gen. Chetta has close relationships with the Indonesians.
/>
/>Audio of what they say, in a Malay dialect, can be heard here, with a Thai translation at the end. Video of what Gen. Chetta said as his press conference today is available here.
/>
/>Gen Chetta said that if there are any problems with the ceasefire that he, and he alone, will take all responsibility. He also said the situation will improve compared to before.
/>
/>BP: I should note that Gen. Chetta is not some golfing general. He is a former Army C-in-C (Gen. Surayud succeeded him in 1998) and Defence Minister under Thaksin. He is also the leader of a coalition party. He was granted time on TV although no one knew in advance what he was talking about – The Manager states Gen. Anupong as knowing that Gen. Chetta wanted time and a TV 5 bigwig says that Gen. Anupong gave his approval, but for the army not to get involved. AFP has more:
/>

Hours before the broadcast, ex-army chief and former defence minister General Chetta Thanacharo appeared on the same channel to announce he had brokered a deal with the group, which he said was party to the separatist conflict.
/>
/>Chetta, leader of the Ruam Chai Thai Chart Pattana party, a minor member of the governing six-party coalition, told Channel 5 he would take full responsibility if violence resumed.
/>
/>”They must prove their intention to cease their activities for the sake of sustainable peace in the south,” the general said. “Everything is not 100 percent certain.”

/>It is also important to note something else what was said by the insurgent “leader” in the video:
/>

One of the three men, speaking in the southern Yawi dialect, claimed to be in charge of 11 sets of insurgents including known militant groups called PULO and RKK. He called on other groups to end their activities.
/>

/>

BP: PULO are a bunch of secular fighters from the 80s who are completely irrelevant. RKK is slightly different, but under which “name” the groups that are completely perpetrating the violence is not clear. Sometimes the RKK is used, other times the BRN Coordinate – Isara News Centre (independent but respected source of commentary on the South) also notes that the statement was PULO connected and coordinated (they say a former PULO spokesman was involved) and we have heard nothing from BRN Coordinate.
/>
/>Obviously the proof will be in the pudding, but why doe he need to call on others to end their activities if he is a leader. Gen. Chetta also said the reason why the tape needed to be released today, as opposed to after 30 days, was that the leaders needed to tell their subordinates about the ceasefire. This doesn’t really he suggest he has much control.
/>
/>Gen. Anupong has identified one of the “leaders as The Nation reports:
/>

Anupong said Malipieng has tried to unify various separatist groups but failed because the members did not believe in his leadership.
/>
/>Anupong identified him as Mali Peng Khan, a former militant who was active in the 1984-1987. He said Mali Peng became inactive after 1987.

/>BP: Most of the military have been publicly quiet, probably not wanting to criticise a former Army C-in-C. Gen. Boonsrang, Supreme Commander, said we will need to take a wait-and-see approach, but he had no details of what transpired between Gen. Chetta and the insurgents. When asked if it was just a hoax, he said “don’t think like that” as if it is true it will be good. However, some elements of the military, when speaking anonymously have dismissive:
/>

A military official told AFP on condition of anonymity he was suspicious of the politician’s motive.
/>
/>”This is likely to be a joke,” he said. “General Chetta may be doing this for his own political benefit. Besides, the group’s name sounds unfamiliar.”

/>AP reports the military as wanting themselves to distance themselves from what Gen. Chetta has been doing:
/>

Army spokesman Col. Akara Thiprote said the army has never heard of the organization.
/>
/>”The army played no role in the negotiation that led to this announcement,” Akara said in a telephone interview. “We will continue to be vigilant in providing security in the region.”

/>A Democrat MP from Narathiwat says that locals don’t know the insurgent leaders are. The Deputy Governor of Narathiwat also tells locals not to be too confident in the ceasefire.
/>
/>Srisompob on Prince of Songkhla University says there are two important observations. The group has never appeared/doesn’t have a presence in the South and they have made no demands.
/>
/>AP reports:
/>

“It is a positive signal from one group but it is too early to tell whether it will have any impact on the situation on the ground,” said Chitchanok Rahimmula, a political scientist at Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani.
/>
/>”Different people claim to represent the insurgents, saying they are the leaders, but it is not clear who is actually in charge,” said Chitchanok, who like many experts on the region said she has never heard of the group.

/>Reuters reports:
/>

Everyone is extremely suspicious and it seems as if it may be a hoax of some sort. No one seems to recognise the flag either,” an analyst at a Bangkok-based security firm said.
/>
/>Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political analyst and security expert at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, was also cautious.
/>
/>”In the past, it (the government) has met people claiming to represent insurgents in the region, but the violence never stops,” he said.

/>BP: You can see the flag in the background here.
/>
/>I am not very confident there will be a ceasefire. There was an attack around 3pm injuring two soldiers and in the last hour there has been another attack. If anything in the next couple of days, you could see a surge in violence to basically discredit the “leaders” to show they do not speak for the current group of insurgents. It will be very hard to prove any reduction of violence is connected either as there has been a downward reduction in violence since October last year. If this continues, is it really because of the ceasefire? The “no demands” surely must be a joke too because why would they give up now for nothing? It makes no logical sense.