Thursday, October 14, 2010
All About the Patani United Liberation Organization
The Patani United Liberation Organization (also spelled Pattani United Liberation Organisation) or PULO is one of the active separatist movements calling for a free and independent Patani. This group, along with others, is currently fighting for the independence of Thailand's predominantly Malay Muslim south.
PULO was founded in 1968 reportedly around the leadership of Kabir Abdul Rahman (Bira Kotanila), a Patani Malay scholar, who has been serving as its chairman until his death in 2008. By late 1992, the organization had split into three factions. The first faction was headed by Dr. Arong Muleng while the second one was lead by Haji Hadi Bin Ghazali. The first faction set up the PULO Leadership Council with a symbol of a dagger crossing with a sword as its logo. The name of its armed unit is called "Kasdan Army." The second faction, also headed by Haji Sama-ae Thanam, has set up the PULO Army Command Council to give support to Kabir Abdul Rahman, the founder of PULO. The third faction headed by Abu Yasir Fikri has the largest ground support and leading the only group with diplomatic credibility, political influence and popular support to be able to officially negotiate and represent PULO at OIC.
In 1995, rifts emerged among the core leaders of the new PULO movement. As a result, Dr. Arong Muleng decided to split his group from the movement to set up a new organization called "PULO 88", while the other group led by Haji Abdul Rahman named its armed unit as "Pulo Keris" (Dagger Pulo).
Current separatist actions
Currently, PULO has a policy of targeting those whom it views as collaborators and associates of the Thai government, such as civil servants, soldiers and policemen.
The organization carries out car bombs, road side bombs and drive-by shootings targeting Thai military and police which they see as legitimate targets.
PULO considers itself to be continuing the independence struggle of the Malay Sultanates after the area declared its independence following the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767. The Islamic state proposed by PULO would cover the areas they say were historically ruled by the Sultanate of Pattani - consisting of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla and Satun provinces in present-day Thailand. However, Songkla Province is only about 30% Muslim and mainly Thai speaking, while Satun actually was part of Kedah and has shown virtually no support for separation from Thailand.
Four star PULO
Four star PULO is considered to be the most respected and popular separatist group in Patani with the most political clout and a large presence in the area although little is known about the group as they prefer to stay out of media and is working under a silence policy. During recent year this group has become increasingly visible and been able to show their influence by gathering active separatist and organize them under their political wing and being recognized internationally as representatives of the Patani People.
They are currently the political representatives by popular consent of GMIP and active military fractions of BRN, RKK and other groups. The four star is becoming increasingly powerful steadily gaining support and loyalty from separatist from different groups forcing different fractions to join their ranks. It is believed that this group could hold enough clout and trust to be able to enforce agreements with the Thai government and end violence against the military and militia from different separatist groups if negotiations would be held between the two.
On 26 July 2009 Abu Yasir Fikri, the President of PULO and the Emir of the Movement of Mujahidin Islam Patani (GMIP), Cikgume Kuteh, made an official agreement to join forces. The agreement includes giving Abu Yasir Fikri mandate to speak on behalf of the GMIP on all political issues. Further on, the agreement included a section in which the movements agreed to build one military force, the Patani Liberation Army, the PLA to be led by the First Deputy Military Commander of the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO).
PULO outlines a solution to conflict
On 18 April at the OICs Twelfth Meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts considering the Conditions of Muslim Communities and Minorities in Jeddah Abu Yasir Fikri, the president of the original PULO proposed a solution to the conflict.
1. In the case of Patani it seems impossible to resolving the issue if it is left entirely in the hands of the Patani people and the Thai Government. This is why international intervention in the form of external governments or the United Nations is necessary. There are some with the opinion that external presence would be interfering with the internal affairs of Thailand but we believe that since Patani is under colonial occupation and its people are struggling to regain their right of self determination this would not be the case. Therefore external intervention should not be seen as interfering with the internal affairs of Thailand.
2. In the first stage the government of Thailand should award the Patani area (The regions which includes Pattani, Narathiwat, Jala, Setun and five districts in the province of Sonkla) special status. The Government and Parliament should allow greater freedom for Patani to manage its internal affairs. This move would not be in contradiction with the Thai constitution and would be applicable in the case of Patani since the conditions and terms of the regions (i.e. Bangkok and Pataya) that’s already been awarded special status has been different in each case.
3. Recognition of the ethnic Malay in the same way that Thailand acknowledges ethnic Chinese in Thailand. Right now Thailand does not recognize the Malay ethnicity, which makes it difficult to prove the sincere intention of the Thai government for peaceful coexistence with the Patani people.
It is necessary that the Malay language is also recognized as the official language in the region and also that the Jawi scripture (using Arabic letters) may be used.
Thailand is trying to implement teaching in the Malay language in one school in each state but with the Thai alphabet. There is no contradiction in the policy of education in Thailand to allow the use of Jawi scripture as foreign language education in Thailand allows for English and French to be taught using the Latin alphabet, while the Japanese and the Chinese languages are taught using their own letters. None of the above mentioned languages (except Jawi) is taught using the Thai script.
4. Recognition of the Islamic law in the Islamic Malay Patani, especially in the field of civil law since the people is Muslim.
5. The people in the Patani region will have a referendum in the future under international supervision in order to determine their own destiny, whether they want to remain part of Thailand or achieve independence from Thailand.
6. Thailand wish to reduce the role of the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO) and Revolutionary National Front (BRN) while at the same time giving credit to the RKK (small and mobile combat units). The RKK is not an organization, but those are small groups moving about in the villages. However, these groups are parts of other liberation organizations in Patani.
Five Star PULO
The Five star is mostly represented in Media by Kasturi. The group has no popular support, political influence or credibility on the ground but is supported and economically backed by the Thai government and been trying to represent PULO in different Thai government initated projects such as TASKFORCE. They are a newly established group formed 2005 and is mostly known by their frequent presence in Thai media often confused with four star PULO as they share the same name.