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0 Thailand ‘Not Ready’ to Accept Reference Terms for Peace: Southern Rebels

Efforts to restart peace talks in Thailand’s Deep South ground to a halt when the Thai government this week declined to endorse ground rules for formal negotiations, the rebel side said Thursday.
Negotiators for the two sides had “mutually agreed” to terms of reference (TOR) in earlier meetings, and expected the full delegations to endorse them at talks in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, sources among the rebels told BenarNews. But the meeting lasted only an hour and 15 minutes, according to the insurgents.
“[T]he Thai side was not ready to endorse the TOR,” said Abu Hafez Al-Hakim, a spokesman for MARA Patani, a panel representing southern rebel groups and factions in negotiations with Thailand’s junta.
“We are however unsure if party A wants to review the TOR, draft a new one or suspend the process altogether,” he said, referring to the Thai delegation. “We were informed that the Thai Prime Minister has not yet approved it.”
The setback to the Malaysia-brokered peace efforts occurred a week after Lt. Gen. Nakrob Boonbuathong, Thailand’s top negotiator with southern rebels since 2013, told BenarNews that he had been removed from that duty.
In comments to reporters the next day, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha called the change of personnel a “normal reshuffle.”
Thai delegation members and military officials in Bangkok could not be reached for comment about the talks on Wednesday or Thursday.
Ahmad Zamzamin, the Malaysian facilitator of talks aimed at re-opening formal peace negotiations for the first time since December 2013, declined requests for comment.
‘A set of rules’
The contents of the TOR have not been revealed to the public, and a statement released by MARA Patani on Thursday did not make clear what the Thai side had objected to in the terms.
A MARA Patani steering committee had approved the terms earlier in April, and a technical team from the Thai side, led by Nakrob, had agreed to them as well after multiple meetings since last year, Abu Hafez said.
“The TOR is like a set of rules and regulations without which a match could not be played,” Abu Hafez said.
“Whatever reasons they have (for not endorsing the TOR), we will give them ample time to reconsider and reverse that decision,” he added.
The MARA spokesman also alluded to Nakrob’s absence at Wednesday’s short meeting.
“He was the ‘engine’ of the Thai team who is knowledgeable and well-versed of the peace process,” Abu Hafez said.
“Prior to his removal, he was optimistic that the Party A would endorse the TOR. His absence was felt and has considerably affected the process.”
‘Not a good sign’
In Thailand, some analysts and NGO leaders reacted with consternation to news of the setback to the peace talks.
“This is certainly not a good sign for the peace dialogue,” Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, an expert on the Deep South, told BenarNews.
Rungrawee said that Prime Minister Prayuth should publicly explain why Thailand did not back the terms, which government representatives had been hammering out with the rebel side for months.
“At the moment, the prospect for the government to proceed with the dialogue is apparently grim,” Rungrawee said, calling the process “vital to the search for a long-term solution to the protracted southern conflict.”
In Yala province, Rukchart Suwan, president of the Buddhist Network for Peace, said he was not surprised that Prayuth had not endorsed the reference terms. He urged negotiators to communicate with the public about the way forward.
“Is a new TOR needed? How long will this take to be done? These [questions] are hanging in the minds of the people, and they have an uncomfortable feeling toward the way the government has worked,” Rukchart said.
Rebel ranks split
Thursday was the 12th anniversary of the Krue Se mosque incident. On April 28, 2004, armed separatists launched attacks across the Deep South that culminated in a military raid on a 400-year-old mosque that killed 32 suspected rebels holed up inside.
More than 6,000 people have died since then in violence associated with the separatist insurgency in Thailand's predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South region. Since early February alone, at least 35 people have been killed in shootings and bombings carried out by suspected insurgents.
On Thursday, a Thai paramilitary was killed and five others were injured in a bomb attack in Yala – one of the provinces in the Deep South – as they were helping to build houses for poor people, police said.
Commenting on the latest twist in the peace process, Malaysian analyst Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani told BenarNews that talks could not take place amid such violence.
In his view, rebels who oppose the peace process spearheaded by MARA Patani were behind the recent surge in regional violence. A sticking point in the peace process has been demands by hardcore rebels for total independence from Thailand, he noted.
“The failure of agreeing to the TOR also comes from the disagreement among the rebel groups themselves. Although MARA Patani has been formed, there are rebel groups who, at the moment, feel left out in the peace talks,” said Azizuddin, a political science and international relations expert at Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Hata Wahari in Kuala Lumpur, Nasueroh in Pattani, Thailand, and Nani Yusof in Washington contributed to this report.
Thanks: http://www.benarnews.org/english/news/thai/Deep-South-peace-04282016070504.html
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0 Joint statement: Armed violence in the Cho-airong Hospital, Narathiwat: All parties urged to protect public health system

For immediate release on 14 March 2016
A joint statement by
Duayjai Group, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Patani Human Rights Organization
Armed violence in the Cho-airong Hospital, Narathiwat: All parties urged to protect public health system
In pursuance to the violence in the Cho-airong Hospital on 13 March 2016, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Health, Dr Sophon Mekthon said that the siege by the insurgents did not last so long and none of the health personnel was harmed, though damages have been inflicted on property including computers, desks, doors, etc. All medical personnel, nurses and doctors, are fine as well as the patients. High ranking officers will be dispatched there to inspect the situation and will report more information to the Ministry later.
According to security agencies, the incidence in the Cho-airong Hospital was related to the attack on the Military Ranger Company base TP 4816, the 48th Ranger Regiment, Tambon Chuab, Cho-airong District, Narathiwat, which is located just in front of the hospital. The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Health extended his appreciation to all military personnel who have carefully performed their duties without using excessive force and have been able to suppress the incidence without causing any fallouts on medical personnel, the patients and their relatives and other people and their property.
It is unacceptable that the acts of the insurgents have caused damages to the medical equipment and other facilities since it will render direct impact on the lives of the patients and the injured persons and may deprive them of the life-saving services.
“Any armed operation aiming to kill the medical personnel, the patients and the injured persons, as well as to damage the medical facilities and equipment as well as ambulances is a breach to international humanitarian law and is thoroughly unacceptable. The state and non-state armed groups and all other parties are urged to help protect and ensure that the operation of the medical personnel be minimally affected. Any act intended to obstruct or impede the performance of duties among the medical personnel is grossly condemned” said Anchana Heemmina, Leader of the Duayjai Group.
Even though the Southern Border Provinces have not been accepted as internal armed conflict or non-international armed conflict, and thus it has been invoked as a reason to not act in compliance with international humanitarian law, but since the law provides for protection of the public, therefore, both parties, the state and non-state armed forces, should commit themselves to upholding the law and accepting its implications.
The human rights organizations based in the local area and working to protect human rights and legal protection in the Southern Border Provinces have the following demands;
  1. All forces, the state and non-state armed groups, must act in strict compliance with international humanitarian law for the benefit of local people.
  2. The state and armed groups must review their military tactics and strategies considering the safety of public, and particularly attention should be given to maintaining the public health system.
  3. Whichever armed groups must refrain from attacking medical and public health facilities or refrain from laying siege and using the facilities as a base for their armed operation or to act in anyway which would impede or obstruct the performance of duties of medical and public personnel. This should include the attack of educational institutions, religious sites and prayer sites, and other public facilities.
  4. All concerned parties must make the effort to investigate the incidence and to bring to justice the perpetrators involved with the infringement of international humanitarian law.

Contact: Anchana Heemmina, Duay Jai Group, phone 081-8098609
Isama-ae Tae, Patani Human Rights Organization, phone 085-2527824
Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, phone 086-7093000
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0 Govt needs to show it really wants PEACE in the South

Signs do not look good before the re-start of peace talk

It is somewhat strange for the chief negotiator for Thailand's peace talks with the Patani Malay separatists, known as MARA Patani, to be revealing what is on the table before securing a buy-in and understanding with the other side. 

Through his spokesperson, retired General Aksara Kerdpol revealed the idea of a "safety zone" being drafted for discussion with the separatist groups.

Colonel Banphot Phunphien, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), quoted Aksara as saying the delineation of a safety zone was among three proposals that the Thai team would try to present at the dialogue process.

The last time talk of putting two districts in a "safety zone" became news - a few weeks ago - a member of the MARA Patani was forced to go public and dismiss the idea, saying it was not something they backed. 

"Safety zone" is another term used in reference to areas where a ceasefire is to be implemented.

Currently, the two sides are operating under an official "pre-talk" mode where confidence-building measures are explored.

Aksara's notion of a "safety zone" reads like something out of a school textbook. Needless to say, reality on the ground speaks differently.

The appointment of a hawkish commander for the Fourth Army, for example, goes against the government's stated attempt to create an atmosphere conducive to peace and talks.

Moreover, the recent decision to seize the property of a well-known traditional Islamic boarding school in Pattani - the Jihad Withaya - also sent a wrong message to people of the region and separatist groups who the government often referred to as "people who think differently" from the state.

And let's not forget the culture of impunity or questionable death of suspects while in detention.

If the state can seize property on grounds that it is allegedly being used to promote separatist tendency or indoctrination, then nowhere is safe - not the teashops in remote villages or the community football team - as sep

aratism has long been very much part of the region's historical narrative.

Banphot said it was hoped that successful implementation of a "safety zone" could first reduce the number of violent incidents in the designated area and then humanitarian law would be applied.

Does that mean humanitarian principle can only be applied in areas were violence has ended? Why wait? State security agencies should be making humanitarian principles their utmost priority, especially in such conflict in which the name of the game is to win hearts and minds of the local residents.

Sadly, one only has to ask government's troops on the ground whether they know what the rules of engagement are. Most likely, one will get a blank stare. Shoot to kill would probably be a common answer. After all, the Emergency Law functions very much like a licence to do just that.

In fact, not one official working in the region has been convicted for any wrong doing over this past 12 years in spite of obvious evidence linking them to crimes.

When the government of
 Yingluck Shinawatra was overseeing the peace process, her point man on the ground for the process - Thawee Sodsong - was not able to end the practice of targeted killings. 

Needless to say, it spoiled the atmosphere that was supposed to be conducive for peace.

Today, with the army in full control, not only have violations continued unabated, but the atmosphere is still years away from being conducive for peace talks.

And to show that they are not exactly in a peace-talking mode, at least not in an environment full of intimidation, insurgents this past week burnt down a public school in Pattani's Thung Yang Daeng district. This happened at the same school they burnt down in late 2014 to send a stern warning over the alleged torture of young men in the area.

No doubt about it, there is blood on the hands of both sides, not to mention violations of humanitarian principles. If we can't graduate and move beyond beyond this situation on the ground, we have little chance of success at any formal peace process.

Thanks: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Govt-needs-to-show-it-really-wants-PEACE-in-the-So-30276034.html
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0 BRN call for foreign observers at peace talks a key test for Bangkok

Don Pathan
Special to The Nation
 October 19, 2015 1:00 am

Insurgent group says it is willing to negotiate if Thailand follows international norms
For an organisation whose leadership is very secretive, Barisan Revolusi Nasional is drifting into uncharted territory as its "Information Department" reaches out to foreign media to make their case about Thailand's questionable effort to secure peace in its southernmost provinces.

Reaching out to foreign media may have come out of a desire to remind the world that
 BRN's leadership has yet to endorse Thailand's current peace initiative.
Nevertheless, it was a step in a more conventional direction - one that could force the Thai government to rethink its own information strategy, according to a Thai government official working on the conflict in the southernmost provinces.

What was interesting, noted the Thai official and Artef Sohko, a youth activist and member of a political action group, the Academy of Patani Raya for Peace and Development (Lempar), was that the
 BRN Information Department had reached out to Anthony Davis, a veteran writer who has for decades written on security issues and conflicts around Asia for Jane's Defence Weekly and other major publications.
For years, much of the information about the conflict in Thailand's southernmost provinces had been provided by the state, making any reporting lopsided.

But the Thai government will no longer enjoy a monopoly on the flow of information should groups like theBRN, which controls a vast majority of the insurgents on the ground, begin to seriously exercise their communication strategy.

 BRN source said the leadership in the movement, namely the Dewan Pimpinan Party, or DPP, agreed to the interview because they wanted to set the record straight regarding the peace initiative of Thailand, the Malaysian government and MARA Patani, the recently established umbrella organisation.
Whether this was a one-time thing remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it was enough to get Thais to seriously think about what the future holds in the realm of communication strategy.

Besides the recent interview with Davis,
 BRN's leadership also issued a four-page statement slamming Thailand for deceiving the world with the initiative but not being willing to make any meaningful concession.
 said they are willing to negotiate for peace but the process must be carried out along international norms and the talks must be witnessed by foreign states.
As expected, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan rejected the demand that foreign governments observe the peace talks.

Bangkok has never liked the idea of foreign mediation for fear of "internationalising" the conflict, which they feel would give too much legitimacy to the separatists.

 sources said the DPP would only endorse the peace talks if their negotiators are properly prepared and their political wings receive the needed immunity.
Earlier last month, just 10 days after the August 27 launch of MARA Patani in Kuala Lumpur, the DPP reminded the world about their feeling about the Thai state through a statement read out by Abdulkarim Khalid, a member of the movement's youth wing who's also part of the
 BRN Information Department.
In the video statement, he

criticised the Thai state for

being insincere and lacking

legitimacy in Malays' historical homeland, which is today's

southern border provinces.

It was hard to dismiss Abdulkarim's statement as irrelevant because he was not an unknown entity. The man was at the negotiating table at the previous round of talks launched by the Yingluck government in February 2013.

Abdulkarim was sent to the talks by the DPP under a very strict mandate. He could not negotiate - as theBRN's DPP did not officially endorse the Yingluck initiative - but would observe and report back to the top leaders.

That initiative ended in late 2013 when the designated "BRN
 liaison", Hasan Taib, threw in the towel and went incommunicado. Street protests in Bangkok also sent the Yingluck government into survival mode until her administration was ousted in May of last year by a military coup.
Seven months after the putsch, the junta decided to pick up where the Yingluck team had left off, but with conditions. Prime Minister
 Prayut Chan-o-cha demanded that the separatist leaders develop a common platform and implement "a period of peace".
Thai officials said "the period of peace", or ceasefire, was to demonstrate that MARA Patani members had adequate command-and-control over the militants on the ground.

Bangkok did not get their "period of peace" but the separatists did form the MARA Patani, a platform for their common strategy and for dealing with the Thais collectively.

 rejected the idea of granting MARA Patani formal recognition and legal immunity but said talks could continue - in an unofficial capacity.
MARA Patani was a sideshow, or Track 1.5, to the Yingluck official Track 1 initiative that has Malaysia as designated facilitator.

Today, with Hasan and Abdulkarim abandoning the initiative, the sideshow was elevated to a formal Track 1. But being on Track 1 does not guarantee MARA Patani members formal or meaningful recognition as Bangkok does not want to give away too much too soon to the Patani Malay groups.

But if MARA Patani could secure a buy-in from the DPP, Bangkok just might take them more seriously and grant them the recognition they want, security officials said.

For the time being, MARA Patani, Thailand's dialogue panel (negotiators) and the Malaysian facilitators are pinning their hopes on a small group of young
 BRN members who broke ranks and joined the peace talks.
Two of these individuals - Sukree Hari and Ahmad Chuwo - were paraded to the press in Kuala Lumpur with other MARA Patani representatives. They still called themselves "BRN" but combatants on the ground said, "Who cares?" What matters, in today's context, is who has command-and-control on the ground.

The Thai negotiators, MARA Patani and Kuala Lumpur were hoping that these former teachers from Thamvithya Mulnithi School in Yala could bridge the gap between them and the
 BRN ruling council.
But the recently released four-page statement, along with Abdulkarim's statement on YouTube, not to mention the interview with Davis, was
 BRN's way of telling all stakeholders that there is no shortcut to peace.
Thai officials have quietly acknowledged that parading the pair to the media in late August along with the MARA Patani may have been a premature move.

Perhaps all sides should have waited until they are certain that these former teachers have secured the needed endorsement from the
 BRN's ruling council.
Don Pathan is an independent security consultant and a founding member of the Patani Forum (www.pataniforum.com
[Read More...]

0 Mara Patani : A New Hope of Peace?

In a historic press  conference, the representatives of  MARA PATANI( Majlis Syura Patani -Patani  consultative council)spoke toThai reporters at the Premiera Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on  August 27, 2015 to lay out their aims and expectations after wrapping up talks there with negotiators from Thailand’s military government.
The Mara Patani is a new umbrella group of six freedom movements, consisting of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), three factions of the Patani Liberation Organisation (Pulo), the Gerakan Mujahidee (GMIP) and Barisan Islam Pembebasan Patani (BIPP)
“We formed Mara Patani to make our struggle a peaceful one,” said Awang Jabal, chairman of Mara Patani, an umbrella organization. “The use of violence and weapons has to go through steps to end violence from both sides. It depends on mutual understanding and trust.”
The Mara Patani delegation was comprised of representatives from the six groups which have been struggling for the secession of Thailand’s three southern border provinces for the past decade. Awang Jabat  representing the BRN and the head of Mara Patani , said he invited Thai media so they could “understand the true ways of Mara Patani, which are transparent matters,” and to help support a dialogue to bring peace to the three southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat
Sukree, a representative e of BRN said Mara Patani submitted three preliminary proposals as a condition for peace. Firstly, the Thai government must place the negotiations on the national agenda, which would bring them to the parliament, thus ensuring changes in Thailand’s government would not disrupt the process, as happened the last time talks were brokered. They also asked for recognition of Mara Patani as the legitimate negotiating party and legal immunity for its negotiating leaders.
An array of shadowy militant groups are currently battling to separate the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala from Bangkok’s rule. The Muslim-majority region, known as the Deep South, was an independent Islamic nation called Patani before it was annexed by Siam in the early 20th century. Nearly  6,500 people have died since the latest wave of secessionist violence broke out in January 2004, according to data compiled officially by rights groups.
In 2013 the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra set up a dialogue with the BRN. However, the discussion was never declared a national agenda – as demanded by BRN at the time – and the two parties failed to reach any substantial conclusion. Issues about autonomy and possible independence of Patani were hardly discussed. Further dialogue was quitted  when anti-government protests broke out in Bangkok in November 2013. The military later seized power from in a coup d’etat in May 2014.
The military junta later expressed its willingness to restart talks and on Tuesday dispatched a team of negotiators to the meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
Speaking in Kuala Lumpur Thursday, Mr Awang stressed the umbrella group's main purpose was to "ensure the rights and interests of the people of Patani are heard, considered, discussed and fought for, consistently, systematically and concretely, it's about self-determination, not secession or separation," said Mr Awang. 
Meanwhile, Thailand Prime Minister's Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said he believes the peace discussion by the joint working group has made significant progress. 

[Read More...]

0 A Thai House Divided


A rift is growing within Thailand’s military-royalist establishment, threatening the country’s stability and undermining prospects that the upcoming royal succession will unfold smoothly.
On one side is an old guard of senior officers who gradually consolidated power during the long reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. On the other is a new guard from a semi-autonomous elite military unit at the service of Queen Sirikit, which includes the leaders of last year’s coup against the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the current prime minister, is a former commander of the 21st Infantry regiment, better known as the Queen’s Guard. Founded in 1950 to fight in the Korean War, it was later assigned to protect Sirikit. After rising to eminence within the regiment, in recent years General Prayuth has sought to increase his political power, and now is challenging other military-royalist factions.
The army has been an indispensable actor in Thai politics for decades, thanks largely to its close connection with the monarchy. Together the military and the royal family have worked to keep civilian governments weak in order to maintain more power themselves. During the Cold War, they joined forces to ward off Communist influence. Their alliance was reinforced in the 1980s, after King Bhumibol appointed Prem Tinsulanonda, a general, to be prime minister. With that nomination, Mr. Prem became the head of what the political scientist Duncan McCargo has called the “network monarchy”: a political consortium of pro-monarchy groups that includes the military, conservative royalists, senior bureaucrats and big business.
Mr. Prem stepped down in 1988, largely because of infighting within his government, but he remained influential behind the scenes. Notably, he is said to have advised Bhumibol during the turbulent period of 1991-92. After Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon, a member of the junta then in power, reneged on a promise not to become prime minister, there were pro-democracy protests, and then the military killed some demonstrators. Bhumibol stepped in, calling for a truce while keeping his distance from the army, and earning a reputation as a stabilizing force and for being neutral. In 1998 Bhumibol appointed Mr. Prem to preside over the Privy Council, an advisory body that protects the monarchy’s interests and propagates its views. By that time, non-elected institutions like the Privy Council and the courts were exerting more and more influence in Thai politics.
The power of Mr. Prem and his supporters in the network monarchy continued to grow until 2001. That year, the telecommunications tycoonThaksin Shinawatra won the election by a landslide, thanks to a populist platform vowing to reduce rural poverty. Tensions between elected and non-elected institutions became an open conflict, as Mr. Thaksin threatened to recast the political landscape and challenge the domination of the monarchy and the military. He was ousted in 2006 in a coup widely believed to have been masterminded by Mr. Prem. (He has denied this.)
Thaksin was not the only loser, however. Soon the Prem faction found itself weakened by the emergence of an anti-coup movement, the so-called red-shirts, as well as anti-monarchist sentiment, which was growing as Bhumibol’s health deteriorated. Queen Sirikit, meanwhile, was becoming more politically active, partly to compensate for Bhumibol’s fading authority.
Sirikit’s position has been reinforced in recent years with the promotion of men from the Queen’s Guard to key positions in the army. General Prayuth was deputy army chief in May 2010 when the army cracked down on red-shirt protesters in Bangkok’s business district; a few months later, he became army chief. Most leaders of the 2014 coup are members of the Queen’s Guard.
Although Sirikit suffered a severe stroke in 2012, her loyalists remain powerful, and now seem ready to influence the royal succession. The Prayuth government apparently supports Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, whom Bhumibol designated as his heir apparent in 1972. Vajiralongkorn, for his part, seems to have endorsed General Prayuth’s coup — by, for example, presiding over the inaugural session of the National Legislative Assembly in August 2014.
But the old guard within the network monarchy finds Vajiralongkorn lacking in gravitas. According to a 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Mr. Prem, the Privy Councilor Siddhi Savetsila and former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun expressed misgivings to the U.S. ambassador to Thailand about the prince becoming king. A note by the ambassador says Mr. Siddhi and Mr. Anand “implied the country would be better off if other arrangements could be made.” Mr. Siddhi suggested that Vajiralongkorn’s sister Princess Sirindhorn, who is well liked by the public, be made heir apparent instead.
Conservative royalists have also become increasingly critical of the military government. Mr. Prem told the media in January, “this country does not belong to Prayuth.” Mr. Anand recently declared in public that General Prayuth should “not to extend his rule too long.” Rumors of a countercoup are growing louder in Bangkok.
General Prayuth has responded by placing more members of the Queen’s Guard in major positions: His brother General Preecha is rumored to become the next army chief. General Prayuth has reportedly been orchestrating this promotion without consulting the Privy Council, even though it traditionally has had a say in important military appointments.
But Mr. Prem is not yet out of the picture. When Bhumibol passes, it will be up to the Privy Council to formally recommend the heir apparent to Parliament for approval and then appointment to the throne. At that point it could nominate Sirindhorn instead of Vajiralongkorn. Even if it did endorse the prince, simply delaying that decision by a day would do great damage to his legitimacy as king.
Fragmentation within the military-royalist complex is complicating the upcoming royal succession in Thailand. With the factions of General Prayuth and Mr. Prem apparently favoring different candidates to the throne, the two men’s struggle could translate into power plays within the government, the army and the palace itself. And should the camp of the Queen’s Guard prevail and Vajiralongkorn accede to the throne, both the military and the monarchy would become even more politicized — and Thailand even less democratic.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
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0 UNHCR shocked over Thailand's deportation of some 100 persons of Turkic origin

UNHCR - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 
09/07/2015 | Press release

distributed by noodls on 09/07/2015 08:15

Press Releases, 9 July 2015

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is alarmed at today's deportation of some 100 persons of Turkic origin by Thailand. It is believed that they were taken to China on two flights early on Thursday morning (July 10), despite having indicated that they did not wish to be deported to China. The group may have included women and children.
UNHCR has been aware of these cases for several months, and made numerous interventions on their behalf to the Royal Thai Government. In response, the agency was given assurances that the matter would be handled in accordance with international legal standards, and that the group would continue to receive protection.
A third country solution was identified and a group of 172 women and children benefitted from this solution last week.
"While we are seeking further clarifications on what happened exactly, we are shocked by this deportation of some 100 people and consider it a flagrant violation of international law," said Volker Türk, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, who is currently in the region.
"I strongly urge the Thai authorities to investigate this matter and appeal to Thailand to honor its fundamental international obligations, notably the principle of non-refoulement, and to refrain from such deportations in the future," he added.
UNHCR urges the Royal Thai Government in the strongest possible terms to allow those remaining to depart voluntarily and as soon as possible to a country of their choice which is willing to receive them.
- See more at: http://www.noodls.com/view/5FD011D675F06682D34E8E13608DEA1482830885?

US condemns Thailand for Uighur deportation Washington (AFP) - The United States condemned Thailand on Thursday for its deportation of 100 ethnic Uighurs to China and warned they could face "harsh treatment," as the international incident inflames diplomatic tensions.The US "expressed our grave disappointment to Thailand," State Department spokesman John Kirby said."We condemn Thailand's forced deportation on July 9 of over 100 ethnic Uighurs to China, where they could face harsh treatment and a lack of due process," the department said in a statement. The fate of a group of Uighurs in Thailand had been in doubt after Thailand sentenced them for illegal entry to the country in 2014.Thailand announced the deportation Thursday of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority in China's northwest who speak Turkic and have often opposed Chinese control.It was also revealed that some of the group had been sent to Turkey in June. Anti-Chinese protesters stormed the Thai consulate in Istanbul in protest of the controversial deportation, the latest demonstration in the country over China's treatment of Uighurs. Human rights groups say Uighurs who flee China face possible torture and other abuses if returned. There are around 10 million Uighurs in China's northwest Xinjiang region and many say they face cultural and religious repression. "This action runs counter to Thailand’s international obligations as  well as its long-standing practice of providing safe haven to vulnerable persons," the State Department said in the statement, urging the country to halt further deportations.Aid organizations should have "unfettered" access to the Uighurs and Thailand should respect its international obligations not to expel refugees, the US said. "We urge Thailand to allow those remaining ethnic Uighurs to depart voluntarily to a country of their choice."

[Read More...]

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