8pm, Thursday May 16, 2013
Members: free Non-members: 350 baht
In an effort to seek an end to nine years of armed conflict that has claimed over 5,000 lives in Thailand’s deep south, the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has agreed talks with the separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional(BRN). But after just two months, the future of the peace dialogue is now hanging by a thread.
Insurgent attacks have surged to a new high, targeting civilians and government forces, following the signing of an agreement to talk on February 28. The peace efforts seemed to hit a dead end on April 28, when BRN posted a statement on YouTube vowing to continue armed struggles until the ethnic Malay Muslim population is fully liberated from Thailand’s rule. The statement also included conditions that BRN knows Thai authorities will find impossible to accept.
A new round of dialogue between the Thai government and BRN is scheduled for June 13. But there is little hope that it will yield any tangible results. Without a strong commitment to address root causes of ethnic Malay Muslims’ grievances, specifically the lack of accountability for the government’s human rights abuses and injustices that galvanise and radicalise the insurgency, peace efforts may founder. On the other hand, separatist insurgents continue to use violence, which have often amounted to war crimes, to scare ethnic Thai Buddhists away, to keep ethnic Malay Muslims under control, and to discredit the authorities. Necessary trust has to be built for a productive dialogue to take place. That has to begin with taking concrete action to end abuses and the culture of impunity by both sides.
Join us for a discussion on the prospects of peace.
– Sunai Phasuk, Human Rights Watch
– Angkhana Neelapaijit, Justice and Peace Foundation
– Dr Srisompob Jitpiromsri, lecturer of political science at the Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani
– Noi Thammasathien, journalist and documentary filmmaker
Film screening: His Name is Ashari
Five years ago, a young man died from a serious wound in a hospital in Thailand’s southern province of Yala. His death was officially recorded as from internal injuries caused by an unknown cause. The family grieved but had no idea what happened to their son until a group of human rights activists and lawyers stumbled across evidence suggesting he was tortured after being arrested in a raid on a group of suspect militants.
It took his mother five years to get the result of the official inquest into his death. The film is a record of one in many torture cases and complaints that happened in Thailand’s Deep South which observers say have only exacerbated the bloody conflict.
His Name is Ashari is probably the only Thai produced documentary about the attempt by ordinary people – of the Malay Muslim family in particular – to make the Thai justice system works for them. The documentary was producer by freelance journalist Noi Thammasathien, with local content producers Mahamasabree Jehloh and Gooyee Itae and journalist Somoosa Boupan.