Taking Back To The Village To Deradicalise Militants

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By Mohd Haikal Isa

Since year 2000, thousands have ended up victims to the armed conflict in the four Muslim provinces of south Thailand - Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Songkhla. Bernama attempts to learn of the feelings on the ground and the efforts taken to bring peace to the restive southern provinces.

The fourth of the five series delves on the deradicalisation programmes being carried out by the Thai government in the south.

PATTANI, Sept 15 (Bernama) -- The "Bawa Balik Kampung" (Take Back to the Village) programme offers a way out for the militants to lay down arms and return to their villages without being arrested.

Moreover, under the programme those who take up the programme could also learn new skills to help improve their economic standing. This is the soft approach adopted by the Thai government in addressing the conflict in the southern most provinces of Thailand.

The Thai government's approach draws parallel with the counter radicalisation programmes rolled out by the other nations and the participation from the militants is voluntary.

The programme ensures the militants pursued by the authorities are rehabilitated and they return back to their villages to continue with their lives.

The programme's chief coordinator for the province of Pattani, Kol Kritsada Kongtan explained that the programme would also help them clear their names from suspicions and militant activities.

THREE CATEGORIES FOR THE PROGRAMME

In explaining further on the programme to Bernama, Kritsada said the "Bawa Balik Kampung" programme has three participant categories.

The first category is for those without an arrest warrant under the Emergency Ordinance but fled their villages fearing of the authorities.

The second category is for individuals with an arrest warrant under the Emergency Ordinance while the third is for those with an arrest warrant under criminal laws or undergoing the court process for criminal acts.

Kritsada said only those in the third category would not be exempted from the punishment meted out by the courts even if they have completed the rehabilitation programme.

The programme that began in 2013 so far has seen 4,200 participants throughout Pattani, including women, with 60 to 70 percent success rate.

The women involved were those involved in relaying information and finding financial resources for the militant organisation, he pointed out.

For six month, the participants of "Bawa Balik Kampung" programme are exposed to numerous modules, right from being self sufficient financially, building friendships and even on religious matters.

RELIGIOUS MODULES

The religious module, he said, would ensure the participants had the exposure to the proper religious teachings and that they were not easily swayed by radical dogmas.

"Apart from that participants could also learn skills like making furniture, wiring, textiles, food catering, agriculture and others," he said adding that this would ensure those who complete the programme were resilient and won't go back to their old ways.

Kritsada pointed out that the programme is carried out in conjunction with the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), a central agency entrusted with the socio-economic development of the restive south.

SBPAC's secretary general Panu Uthairat stressed that the counter radicalisation programme would be set on high gear to draw more radicalised people and help them return to the society.

AN EFFECTIVE APPROACH

Panu, born in Nongchick, Pattani is determined to see the success of the programme that is crucial in returning peace and public order in the southern provinces of Thailand.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan who visited south Thailand early this year also took a closer look at the "Bawa Balik Kampung" programe. He was reported saying that it was an effective approach in neutralising the tense atmosphere in south Thailand.

Jen Prawit, who is also the defence minister, urged the participants to bring their comrades to join the programme as well.

"Those who don't agree with the government should not be cast aside, they should in fact join hands with the government to develop the southern provinces," he said.

As long as the government is concerned, it will ensure there is justice for the programme participants and that all government agencies will lend a helping hand in ensuring peace and public order down south.
--BERNAMA