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FORUM-ASIA Meeting with Activists and Students from Patani

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On Sunday 26 July 2015, FORUM-ASIA and some of its members from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines had an informal meeting in Bangkok with activists and students from Patani, a region located in the southern part of Thailand.

The former Sultanate of Patani, which nowadays comprises the three Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, has a population of approximately 1.8 million people of whom 80% are Malay Muslims. The region has suffered from conflict as early as 1902, but it flared up initially in the 1960’s and more recently again in 2001. All attempts to resolve the conflict through peace talks have so far been unsuccessful.

FORUM-ASIA staff and members had the opportunity to listen and learn from three activists from Patani about the overall situation in the region. Their presentations focussed on the history of the conflict, the role of students and young peace activists in the region, and the progress of the current peace talks.

In a region where 47% of the population is under 30 years old in particular the role of the young generation peace activists was highlighted. In this sense, the contributions of young Patani students were particularly meaningful, giving their perspectives and expectations for the future of Patani.

The meeting also provided a valuable opportunity for the Patani participants to benefit from the suggestions of others Asian human rights activists. FORUM-ASIA’s members shared their respective national and regional experiences, varying from the struggle of the people from Aceh, Timor Leste and West Papua, to the steps and difficulties of the peace-process in Mindanao. All participants highlighted the fundamental role that civil society plays in promoting dialogue, justice and accountability, and supported the need for a peaceful solution.