One of the largest insurgent groups from Thailand’s troubled south walked out of peace talks Monday in protest at being called separatists by the government.
The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) said it would come back to the table only if Bangkok agreed to refer to it as an anti-occupation movement, saying the label of separatists was “political subterfuge.”
“Thailand has never accepted the fact that the root cause of the Patani problem is occupation and colonization,” it said online. BRN also called for international observers to mediate any future talks.
The government has consistently denied the independence claims of the three Muslim-majority provinces in the very south of the country.
Yala, Patani and Narathiwat were part of the Sultanate of Patani for several hundred years, which like several parts of present-day Thailand was nominally an independent state but paid dues to Bangkok.
In 1909 the territory was divided between then British Malaya and Thailand, in a treaty that formalized its northern part as Thailand’s three southernmost states.
The insurgency simmered for much of the second half of the last century. It flared up again in 2004, and has left 6,200 people killed and 11,000 injured since then.