Bringing peace home in Thailand's deep South

Bringing peace home in Thailand's deep South

Many of the men, who attended a recent ceremony presided over by Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha, insist they have nothing to do with the continuing violence in the deep South and do not see eye-to-eye with the separatist cause.

"We never feel discriminated against, or welcomed by the separatist cause," Yerraheng Sulong, 24, a rubber tapper said.

"I have always felt comfortable and at home living in Thailand. I don't know who puts me in a category deemed 'hostile to the state' - and I don't know anyone in that category either," he added.

"I feel happy and proud today that Thai authorities are making efforts to solve this basic problem for residents. If such projects were introduced to southern provinces earlier, this feeling [of discrimination] would not have affected locals in the region."

Yerraheng said all male adults in his neighbourhood had been subject to arrest warrants or summonses for reasons that were unclear. The father of one boy said he saw warrants with his name.

Abdullahshi Sagunmahor, 51, an uncle of Yerraheng, said residents in his village had not cooperated with security officials during their patrols or intelligence gathering trips, because they feared reprisals from insurgents. This could be a reason why men in both neighbourhoods had been subject to warrants and summonses.

The man said his son had worked at a tom yam kung shop Malaysia, after fleeing from Thailand, when he was accused of being behind a bomb attack four years ago. The unnamed man reported to the Bring People Home scheme last month and has since returned to work in Malaysia.

Mayuewan Hayiroh, 32, a resident in Yala, said he was wanted under the Emergency Decree in 2005, one year after an insurgent raid on an Army barracks in Narathiwat, which saw four soldiers killed and a large number of assault rifles looted.

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