Above and below: Screenshots from the ceasefire announcement - The man on the left spoke in Malay and the one on the right spoke in Thai. The man in the middle is holding a microphone.
"Thailand United Southern Underground" ceasefire - July 17, 2008
At noon on channel 5 (not channel 7 as The Nation claims), there was a announcement that the Thailand United Southern Underground group was calling a ceasefire in the south. There seemed to be emphasis that the King is their king and they want to remain part of Thailand. Also a warning that those who did not conform to the ceasefire would be punished.
Southern insurgents announce ceasefire - The Nation, July 17, 2008
Channel 5 TV broadcasts TUSU ceasefire announcement - translated and summarized from Phujatkan, July 17, 2008
The Channel 5 television station transmitted a special broadcast at noon today, carrying a videotaped ceasefire declaration by an alliance of militant groups involved in the deep south’s violent insurgency. The declaration was made by the leaders of an insurgent network styling itself as the Thailand United Southern Underground (TUSU). The pre-recorded announcement was first made in Melayu, and then in Thai. The two spokesmen announced an end to their group’s violent attacks against the Thai state and its loyal subjects in the southern provinces, retroactive to 12 pm on July 14. The statement was as follows:
“I am making this announcement as the spokesman of the Thailand United Southern Underground (TUSU) network, which has been operating for more than ten years. This announcement is intended to let Thai people know that our network has approved the declaration of a ceasefire, retroactively effective as of 12 pm on July 14, 2008 (2551 (BE) Buddhist Era) (14 Rajab, Hijrah 1429).
All of our units, both military and political, will henceforth support the creation of a peace-process in Thailand’s southern provinces. This conflict began in 1909 (2452 BE), nearly 100 years ago. We have decided to end our part in this conflict in the hope that a ceasefire will help to both return this country to peace and improve the well-being of its citizens.
We call on all our units, military and political, to conform to this ceasefire. All plans to engage in combat and commit violence will be immediately cancelled.
I, as both the spokesperson and leader of the TUSU network, call on all units to immediately halt all violent attacks. I especially wish to communicate this to those units that have not yet been informed of our ceasefire decision. Any individuals or groups who defy the ceasefire order, to foment trouble or to carry out kidnappings or attacks, will be considered as renegades - whom we will pursue and/or eliminate as necessary.
We are willing to remain under the umbrella of HM the King of Thailand, and to support the integrity of Thailand as proscribed by the laws of its state. We are desirous to begin the process of returning this country to peace.
Our beloved Thai people! We should greet this ceasefire as a gift from God for both the people of the South and for all Thais nationwide. To show our gratitude and our kinship with this our beloved country, our religious and political leaders - of all ranks - will soon organize a meeting and a celebration that will clearly demonstrate to all of our brothers and sisters the full benefit of this ceasefire.
We wish to encourage people of all religions, and especially Buddhists and Muslims, to coexist peacefully. We hope that neighboring countries will provide us with advice on how best to bring a successful end to this conflict.
Our beloved Thai brothers and sisters! It is our profound hope that we can help to bring a permanent end to the violence and loss of life in the southern provinces - so that all of its inhabitants can once again coexist peacefully.
I would like to emphasize yet again, that we wish to inform all Thais that TUSU units will halt all operations that promote unrest from this day forth.
Our beloved Thai brothers and sisters! We all pay homage to the same God. We all love and respect the same King. May God protect our King and all his subjects! We hope, in this way, that peace will be soon be fully restored - and that it will remain that way forever.”
General Chettha Thanajaro, the leader of the Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana Party, claimed today that he has been in private negotiations with the TUSU network in recent months. TUSU network members are said to include representatives from both the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO) and the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) insurgent movements. Gen. Chettha said that he had reached an unconditional agreement with TUSU for the ceasefire declaration to be made. He also said that TUSU had not make any demands for the establishment of either a separate state or a self-governing region within Thailand.
Criticism that ceasefire declaration was a political ploy and a fake - translated and summarized from Isra Institute Thai Press Development Foundation News Center, July 17, 2008
The Thai Television Pool today broadcast a pre-recorded videotape of a ceasefire declaration made by a group claiming to be the leadership of the Thailand United Southern Underground (TUSU) network. The declaration announced that all violent attacks by the TUSU group, in the southern border provinces, would come to an end with immediate effect. This declaration has since been widely criticized, however.
Isra News Center has gathered a number of opinions and thoughts on the likely impact of this declaration. These opinions were collected from academics, analysts, military tacticians, humanists and local community leaders with a considerable knowledge of the southern conflict.
Professor Adullah Abru, an academic based in the College of Islamic Studies at the Prince of Songkhla University’s Pattani Campus, has commented that the declaration was nothing more than a political ploy - which carried too little weight in the region to have any great credibility. He portrayed the declaration as an attempt to improve the public perception of the government’s initiatives in the region.
Pongcharat Ruayram, a committee member of the ‘National Human Rights Commission of Thailand’, has commented that the declaration was little more than a political ruse and a fake. He believes that TUSU does not really exist on the ground in the three restive southern provinces - and so has no role to play in improving the region’s situation. He also believes that the ceasefire declaration could be construed as an act of defiance by the other insurgent movements active in the region - and that this could actually make the situation worse.
The President of the ‘Southern Newspaper Association of Thailand’, Chaiyong Maneerungsakul, has said that the person who made the declaration in Melayu could be Lukman Bin Lima, the spokesperson of the original (‘old’) PULO insurgent movement. He accused PULO of trying to use its website to engineer a future political role for itself, in the hope that it might eventually be able to negotiate with the Thai government. He also described PULO as warmongers.
Chaiyong noted that the security forces are currently blaming the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinate (BRN-C) insurgent group for all the violent attacks carried out in the South - rather than either the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO) or Bersatu groups. He said that the BRN-C had never been involved in any real form of negotiation with the Thai state, whilst the original PULO and other ‘old’ groups had negotiated with previous Thai governments on a number of occasions. He also said that these ‘old’ groups had even signed a peace agreement, on the Malaysian island of Langkawi, with a previous Thai government.
Chaiyong also noted that the security forces were reporting that most of the violence was being carried out by groups led by Sapae-ing Baso and Masae Useng - and that a ceasefire declaration by the two would have carried much more weight than any made by Lukman and his compatriots. He said that there was now a big question as to why the Prime Minister (who is also the Minister of Defense) and the Royal Thai Army (RTA) Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) had not been more forthcoming about the background to the ceasefire declaration. He said that it was responsibility of the two men to take a lead on this issue, but noted that they had allowed General Chettha Thanajaro (a former RTA C-in-C) to conduct the events leading up to the declaration. Chaiyong noted that Gen. Chettha had not been assigned any official role to tackle the issue, and had no real history of dealing with the southern problem.
General Akara Thiproj is an RTA Spokesperson. He is also the Chief of the RTA Region 4 Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). Gen. Akara has said that ISOC had no idea that any such negotiations were underway. He said that Gen. Chettha (who is also the leader of the Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana Party) had made no attempt to inform the 4th Army Region that he was involved in negotiations with an insurgent group. Akara said, however, that if the ceasefire declaration was genuine, it would be a cause for real celebration amongst all Thais.
Peerayos Rahimula, an elected Democrat Party MP, said that it was too soon to comment on whether the declaration would bring an end to the region’s unrest. He said the TUSU declaration made no mention as to whether it had received the assent of other southern insurgent movements - such as PULO or BRN.
Angkana Neelapaichit, the President of the ‘Working Group on Justice for Peace’ commented that if the declaration proved to be real, that she would call on the government to also halt its violent security measures in the region. She said she would also call on the government to focus only on peaceful solutions to the conflict. [Angkana is the widow of the murdered lawyer Somchai Neelapaichit, a former Chairman of the Muslim Lawyers’ Club.]
Vaedue Ramae Mamingji, the Chairman of the Pattani Provincial Islamic Committee, said that peace would only return if all the involved parties were prepared to sit down and talk to each other. He said that he thought it was a good thing that TUSU had decided to enter into negotiations and announce a ceasefire. He said that local people had suffered far too much in the past 5 years, but that it was inevitable that they would sooner-or-later achieve peace.
The Assistant Manager of the Chariyatham Seuksa Foundation School, Abdussakur Bin Safiey Din-a, said that the ceasefire announcement was a good political move. He said that despite the ‘ceasefire group’ being unknown, that there was a possibility that the region’s other underground movements would begin to listen - as all most locals really wanted to hear was that some kind of peace-process was under way.
Jae Abiding Ben-abus - a Pattani Province resident - commented that no one locally seemed to know exactly who had made the declaration, or had even heard of TUSU. He said that locals were not at all sure whether the ceasefire had the potential to improve matters in the region. He added, however, that locals would be delighted if the declaration eventually restored peace - as most had no other hope than to once again live and work in a happy environment.
Chettha insists underground group is real - translated and summarized from Thai Rath, July 20, 2008
There has been widespread criticism of the ceasefire declaration made by the leadership of the Thailand United Southern Underground (TUSU) insurgent group [on July 17]. The announcement initially seemed to hold out some promise of bringing an end to the violence in the South. Many have since said that it is impossible for TUSU to deliver on their ceasefire announcement, since the group has no real power in the region. Powerful local insurgent groups such as the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO) and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Coordinate (BRN-C) have already denied any involvement in the announced ceasefire. Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has suggested that the government needs to make it clear to the public that it was not involved in the peace overtures that led up to the announcement.
General Chettha Thanajaro, who instigated the broadcast of the pre-recorded videotape of the ceasefire declaration [on Channel 5 TV on July 17], has once again insisted that he made peace overtures to TUSU without any official government or military involvement. Gen. Chettha says he is not worried if some people are inclined to believe that he began a negotiation process with TUSU as a means to gain a future position in government. Sources close to the general say his actions have enabled some important figures in the PULO and BRN-Coordinate insurgent groups to emerge from the shadows. The same sources also insist that the three TUSU spokesmen and their ceasefire announcement are all genuine - and that the level of violence in the South is likely to decline in the next 30 days.
Blame game over ‘fraudulent’ ceasefire having negative impact on state’s public image - translated and summarized from Krungtep Turakit, July 18, 2008
A rebel group appeared on Channel 5 television in a pre-recorded videotape transmission yesterday, to announce an unconditional ceasefire by insurgent groups currently fighting government forces in the deep south. The 3 spokesmen on the video claimed to be the leaders of 11 militant groups long active in the region’s unrest. It was later realized that the ceasefire declaration was probably fraudulent - after many military figures, academics and politicians made statements casting doubt on the authenticity of the individuals who made the announcement. Many people are now concerned that this whole event could hugely discredit the public image of the Thai state.
Public comments on the likely long-term impact of this event have broadly fallen into 2 strands:
The first strand holds that the episode could badly dent the public image of the state and its security units. This is because it is unclear exactly what part the state took in the episode - if any at all. There is some evidence, however, that the current government left the whole matter to a former Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief to negotiate alone - namely General Chettha Thanajaro, who was once also the Defense Minister. Gen. Chettha has since said that he is prepared to take responsibility for his part in the episode.
The second strand of comment has arisen among some residents of the restive south, who now have increasing suspicions that some of the violent incidents in their region’s recent past were plotted with the connivance of the state’s security services. This suspicion is based on their assumption that this ‘fraudulent’ declaration could have been engineered through state collusion with terrorist groups.