91 Thai rebels surrender
91 men facing insurgency-related charges surrendered to authorities yesterday and asked for legal assistance and help in starting new lives. They turned themselves in to security officials and met Fourth Army commander Udomchai Thamsarorach at the Islamic Committee Office in Narathiwat. They face either security law or criminal charges, while others are charged under both sets of law.
The defectors belonged to a
terrorist rebel group called Badan Penyelarasan Wawasan Baru Melayu Patani. One of the defectors was Waeali Copter Waji, alias Jeh Ali, a key suspect in connection with the Jan 4, 2004 arms robbery at the 4th Development Battalion.
The men gave the army commander a letter declaring they have formally quit the insurgency. The letter said they believed the group's goals were too ambitious and its strategies were not successful.
The rebel group also shifted its stance as the government changed its security policies.
Mr Muktar said that life in the forest hideouts was tough. He said that, after a while, they realised they were fighting a lost cause and decided to defect.
The defectors asked Gen Udomchai how authorities intended to help them deal with the legal charges against them. They said they wanted jobs and peaceful and safe lives.
Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have promised to secure jobs and give them loans to restart their lives. State agencies will also ensure they are treated fairly in the legal proceedings, said Gen Yutthasak, who added the 91 were moderate separatists. Hard-core members of the group remain at large.
Mr Muktar said that there were hundreds more rebels who were ready to surrender. Some who faced legal charges have fled to Malaysia and returned occasionally, but could not find work. He said, "Everyone wants to come out in the open and look after their families. But, above all, they want safety. If the government can provide what they ask for, there will be many more defectors."
The 91 defectors, however, are not the same people whom Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung recently said were planning to surrender.
Posted by: ryuge