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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Interview: S Thailand insurgent
Car attacked by insurgents 20/07/06
Several different groups are believed to be behind the violence
A man who said he was a senior member of insurgent group the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo) has told the BBC about its objectives.

The secretive group's name derives from the ancient Kingdom of Pattani, a semi-autonomous Malay region which was annexed by Thailand in 1902.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview:

What are Pulo's aims?

We want to take our own land back. I won't say we want to separate from Thailand as that would imply we were part of Thailand in the first place. People who live in Pattani have to take their land back - it's their duty.

The government should accept the history of Pattani - that is was independent before and that local people are still fighting for their land. This is not about religion, it's about land. But obviously the new state would be Islamic.

Have you ever personally been involved in any attacks in southern Thailand?

No.

Do you condone these attacks?

I don't agree with some things - killing innocent citizens is not right. But it's necessary to attack the authorities because it makes the government here realise that we want independence. If we keep quiet, the government won't take notice of what we want.

I'm very sorry for the families affected. Even I am sometimes affected - a policeman who was killed fairly recently was a friend of mine. But we can't avoid these things happening - they will happen until this is sorted out.

What is your exact role?

I find out information about who has died and who killed them, then I send that information to Pulo organisations abroad, in Malaysia, the Middle East and Europe. I also find out whether people who have been arrested by the authorities are members of Pulo. If they are, we work out how we can help them.

How did you become involved with Pulo?

I went to Iraq in the 1970s to do a course in Islamic studies. While I was there, I saw that my own community did not have the same quality of life as other Muslim communities in the Middle East - our own land, our own country. When I came back here, I started to see the problem more and more. I met other people with similar views and was encouraged to join Pulo. I have been a member ever since.

What do you want the government to do?

They should negotiate with us directly, with honesty. We would also have to have proper discussions with members of the population here. The government is always demanding an end to the violence, but if we stop now, what will the government give us?

Maybe we will target other areas, like Bangkok or Phuket - I can't guarantee it won't happen

We need them to release prisoners, stop the emergency decree and send the army away from this area. We could have middle men to negotiate, like the international monitors in Aceh.

How do you relate to other insurgent organisations in the south?

The other organisations have the same aims as us, but maybe different systems to get there. I don't want to talk much about these organisations, and I don't know how much they are all linked, but I know there is a network to co-ordinate things.

Right now there is a group which has a lot of young blood. They're quick and fast and they don't worry what will happen after they do something. They don't care because they want the government to have a big reaction, which will cause more problems.

Where do you get your support from?

Our funding comes from local people, or locals who have now moved abroad. When Pulo first started, we had to buy our own weapons from Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam. Now we often get them from Thai officials and also from taking weapons belonging to the military.

The raid on the army depot in January 2004 was actually a private agreement. It was made to look like a robbery, but it wasn't actually a robbery at all.

Are you linked to any international groups?

No. Jemaah Islamiah, al Qaeda, Hezbollah - no, we are not linked with them at all, 100%.

In the future, might you target other areas of Thailand?

Maybe we will target other areas, like Bangkok or Phuket - I can't guarantee it won't happen. Everything depends on the government.






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