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Thai crime scene investigators inspect the site of a bomb explosion in Yala, southern Thailand. Thai crime scene investigators inspect the site of a bomb explosion in Yala, southern Thailand, March 17, 2020 (AP photo).

Can a Renewed Push to End Separatist Violence in Thailand Succeed?

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In early March, Thai government negotiators convened in Kuala Lumpur for a second round of direct talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, or BRN, a secretive separatist group that is thought to control the vast majority of rebels operating in Thailand’s restive “deep south.” Until an earlier round of talks in January, the BRN had been excluded from dialogue with the government in Bangkok, which was controlled from 2014 until last summer by a military junta. Now, a nominally democratic government led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief, is cautiously reviving a long-stalled peace process.

The Thai government labeled the latest meeting as “constructive,” yet stressed further substantive talks with the BRN would require “time, continuity and support” from all stakeholders in the peace process, which is being mediated by neighboring Malaysia. Thai negotiators also emphasized the need for a “reduction of violence in order to create a conducive atmosphere” for talks, which in the past have routinely faltered amid resurgent separatist attacks and alleged abuses by the Thai military. ...

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