Statement from a member of the National Liberation Front of Patani - translated and summarized from Issara News Centre; April 24, 2009
During the past five years of the unrest in the South, we often heard about words like "insurgents" or "R.K.K. commando bombing men." Those words were used by the security forces after a violent event took place.
However, people have never been informed what exactly insurgents are, who they work for, and what they do. Are the words "R.K.K" or "commando" names that the armed group calls itself or is it a word created by the government?
Previously, there were efforts to let members of those movements unveil inside information to the media, but the public was not interested. They were seen as a set-up of the government [for propaganda purposes].
Recently, the Issara News Centre had a chance to talk to a former member of an insurgency movement called Jihad. Jihad means a religious effort or is used for an action done to increase people’s faith in God. However, here, it means a holy war.
The information unveiled by this man, who was a former insurgent, and words of people living in the same village, enables us to know about the movement’s ideas, measures and strategies applied to achieve its goal – land separatism.
"I don’t think I made a wrong decision that day"
The 39-year-old former insurgent said that he worked with the group for about four years and he never thought that he had made a wrong decision.
“I was a member for about four years. Back then, I was proud of what I was facing. In early 2004, ‘Ayah’ (a position of a leading member in a village) liked to come talking to me about history and the Patani state. The man also told me about what happened during the time, focusing on discrediting the Thai government. He never talked about good side of the Thai government. No one thought of asking him either.”
The former insurgent discloses that ‘Ayah’ spent years talking to him.
“He would spend a long time coaxing people. He made us feel confident in the movement day by day. After that, Ayah will persuade them to become a member of the movement. He claimed that all of residents in the village were members of Jihad, except you. He would say that you were the last one, go back home and think about it”.
“I spent two days considering about the proposal and joining the Jihad. After that, Ayah held a meeting at the home of a member, without informing people of the purpose of the meeting. I was there and saw four people already waiting. Later, five other villagers joined. So, there were ten, the whole village”.
“After that, Ayah showed up with a 50-year-old man and asked everybody in the house to sit in a circle. The old man told everyone to put their right hands on his (this is "supoh," an inauguration ceremony – a personal belief of Muslim people) and speak after him in Yawi language. The vow said that no person was allowed to unveil any secrets. If one did so, he would be punished by Allah. After one performed "supoh," he would have to follow all orders. He would let us speak a few times”.
However, during the ceremony, the former insurgent started to think that there was no such ceremony of Islamic doctrine [that he would be punished by Allah for telling about the group].
“It was not stated in doctrine, so how come we prepared the ceremony? This was what made me dare unveiling secrets of the movement.”
Mobilising people to hate the government – hoarding food to prepare for war
After the ceremony, Ayah told everyone that they were now members of the movement. They would be called ‘Masa’ of the Jihad. Masas were told to separate into two groups – one had to attend a meeting once a month and another had to provide security.
“The meetings were aimed at mobilizing people. The Ayah said that Muslim people had to worship Allah’s kindness five times a day – it is a wajib. All villagers had to ask God to bless them in the war.
"Sometimes, he would talk about the history of the Patani State which previously belonged to Malayu people. The state was seized by Siam. And Malayu people were captured as prisoners and dug the San Saeb Canal in Bangkok with their bare hands.
“Ayah also showed them that there were only Muslim people living along the San Saeb Canal. They were descendants of Malayu people in Pattani. Hence, we, as descendants of Pattani, had to fight for freedom of Pattani.”
Meetings also detailed about the movement’s way of life and its next plan.
All Muslim people must join the Jihad movement. Those with wives and children did not have to fight. They would only support the movement. The movement focused on a way of life in which people would have to depend on themselves. They grew their own vegetables, raised ducks, chickens, cows and fish and stockpiled rice and medicines as when the war began we could not go out. However, we would still have our own supplies.
“If one died during war, it was a zahit (which means to die in a God’s way), but the movement uses the word to mean " god’s warrior." When a zahit dies, his body does not have to be cleaned. Moreover, he could take 70 other people with him to heaven.
Moving to free the country – collecting money to support the movement
The former member said that back then, he felt so proud and uplifted.
“Definitely, everybody wanted himself and the ones he loved to go to heaven”, he said.
The former member said that besides mobilization meetings, the organization also had ten rules.
“Actually, there were ten, but I could remember only five. All members have to undergo all religious activities, obey leaders, do not unveil secrets of the movement, be punctual, and focus on movement’s tasks instead of personal ones."
The former member was one of the economic staff, responsible for collecting money from members.
“They told me to collect one baht from a person daily – as a monthly payment. For annual payment, 360 baht would be collected from everyone. And they could pay more than that if they wanted. Every tenth of a month, members would have to get the collected money to me. After that, another member would take it from me. I did not know what the organization did with the money.
Physical training – Bravery test
Besides regular duties, all members had to receive physical training.
“This was an order of leading members. Military members were trainers. The venues were mostly homes of members in the village. At that time, there were five other people attending the training with me. The trainer would tell us to line up and jog, push up, sit up and jump. Members would receive training for three days per week, two hours daily."
He said that after the training, members would have to take a bravery test.
“The training would last a few weeks. After that, the trainer would order us to create a situation [a disturbance or violent act] in the village and nearby villages. In my first time, a plan was set. Members would create a situation twice in a night. Members were separated into two groups, five each. The first group would attack road signs and the second one would attack the foot of a bridge at the entrance of the village. Both groups would have military members.”
“After the meeting, when all members got the plan they would go home immediately to prepare for the attacks. Some members and I had to seek two tires, rags, three liters of benzene and two cans of spray paint. Military members would bring nails. When the time came, members would meet up at the appointment spot. We met up at 8:00 pm that night. My friend and I helped throw nails on the main road. The rest cut trees down to block the road. After the mission completed, my friends and me got back to my place to rest and wait for the next mission.”
“When the time for the second mission came – around 1.30 am – other members and I brought tools to create a situation again. Rag would be put in both tires. Benzene was poured onto the tires. Afterwards, we would put one tire on the road, and another one would be a bit away from the first one. Benzene would be poured from one tire to another before setting fire. Other leftovers like the gallon jug and rag would be thrown into the fire.”
He said that after the mission, they all went back home like nothing happened. The next morning, they heard people saying that last night, nails were thrown along the road. Tires were burnt and trees were cut to block the road. Moreover, residents in a nearby village were decapitated. So, he knew that there were also other activities.
Besides collecting money, he also had to do several tasks, especially providing security.
“At first, there was no obvious security measures. Members just had to monitor movements of officials going in and out of the village. At the end of 2005, leading members ordered the organization of a security system. Military and other members would act as guards together.
To act as a guard, we were unarmed. We had only walkie-talkies. We were only members and were responsible only for monitoring movements of officials and report them to members in the nearby village by walkie-talkie. We were not allowed to talk about other issues in the walkie-talkie. In my village, there were four groups of security guards, two each. A group would have to provide security from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am.
“When officials came, members would use a code to communicate with other members in their own and nearby villages. The code were, for instance, a fruit truck is going up there, which meant an official’s vehicle was going in the village, or your relatives are coming, which meant officials are going into the village. But, those codes were used only in my group. I did not know the codes of other villages. I also knew that some villages would have women member acting as guards. But, in my village, all guards were men,” he said.
Spending many years with the movement, he felt that there was only chaos and strain. Last year, a team of government officers helped develop the village and showed their sincerity. Village residents felt that they could try officers and turned their back to the movement.
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