Muslims In Thailand Offer Cease Fire

The United States and European nations tend to focus on terrorism as it pertains to the Middle East or to regions on the border of Pakistan, but few are concerned with the long term Muslim insurgency in Thailand. The people of Thailand are overwhelming Buddhist, but southern provinces have always been populated by people with Muslim backgrounds. For years there has been continual guerrilla warfare conducted by these Islamic insurgent groups. Thailand’s Army chief, General Anupong Paojinda has refused to negotiate with insurgents and disregarded the latest offer of a cease fire. He does not believe those claiming to speak for Muslim insurgents really have the power to enter into negotiations.

In a pre-recorded video broadcast by the army run Channel 5 television station, three unnamed Muslim men claimed to represent 11 insurgent groups and announced their intention of halting all attacks in the three southern provinces. They indicated a desire to proceed with a peace process. General Anupong admitted he was taken by surprise by men who boasted they represented the Thailand United Southern Underground(TSSU).

The Muslim rebels initially made their offer of a cease fire to General Chettha who leads a coalition party rather than directly dealing with Thai leaders. General Chettha said the insurgents do represent a sizable portion of those fighting the government. The video was made in Germany.

A solution to the Muslim insurgency most probably requires political concessions such as increased local autonomy and economic incentives for southern provinces.