Thai officials agreed to the parole of three Deep South insurgents at the request of MARA Patani as part of talks to end a decades-long separatist rebellion, the head of a government delegation told BenarNews on Thursday.
The announcement came on the same day that an army official said it would not go forward with a plan to move former insurgents and their families to Narathiwat – one of the provinces in the Deep South – as part of a military-backed rehabilitation program.
Earlier this year, MARA Patani, the umbrella group representing rebel groups in peace talks, demanded that three insurgents jailed in two Thai prisons be released to participate in an initiative to set up a so-called Safety Zone, or geographically limited ceasefire, in one of the districts of the Deep South as a first step toward peace in the region.
“The ministry of justice has processed the parole of the three inmates. They are qualified for parole … we have been looking to make it happen,” Gen. Aksara Kerdpol, who leads the Thai delegation in peace talks, told BenarNews by phone.
Malaysia-brokered talks between Thailand’s military government and MARA Patani have been ongoing since 2015.
For months, both sides have been negotiating for an agreement to establish a safety zone, which is seen as a linchpin for taking the peace talks to the next stage.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha recently revealed that the Safety Zone would be in Cho I-rong, a district of Narathiwat province.
Maj. Gen. Sithi Trakulwong, secretary of the Thai peace talk delegation, confirmed that the technical teams of both sides had chosen that district, but the full delegations had not approved the location.
Full story: BenarNews
Copyright ©2018, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.