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Prof. Chaiwat Satha-Anand, a political scientist at Thammasat University and a prominent peace scholar, spoke at a seminar on “Peace Dialogue Seminar in ASEAN Context” on 7 September 2012. He delivered a peace massage to southern insurgents. Here is his full speech:   


They asked me to talk about peace dialogue. I normally do not obey the organizers. So, what I want to do is I want to do a peace dialogue. The second thing I want to do is that my primary audiences may not be in the room because I want to speak directly to the insurgents of Patani.  So, my primary audiences are the insurgents. I have 4 words. The first word is problems, the second one is assumption. The third one is question and the fourth one is knowledge. So, only four words.

Let’s begin with the problems. There are two problems;  problems on the side of the Thai state and problems on the side of the insurgents. The problem on the side of the Thai state has been elaborated and so critically analyzed by Prof. Duncan McCargo in his book “Tearing Apart the Land”

In my understanding, the Thai state regarding southern problems is suffering from what he and I would call the disease of legitimation deficit. And there is no way to get out of that unless you tackle this. That’s the problems on the Thai state. The Thai state is suffering from this disease. The problem on the part of the insurgents is another thing.  I think they suffer from the problem of blindness as a result of the use of violence.  This is blindness because of the instrument used, namely the instrument of violence. As a result, more than 5,000 people have been killed, of course, not all of them by the insurgents. We will have to find out what the exact numbers die at the hand of the insurgents and what’s the numbers die at the hand of the Thai state; die at the hand of paramilitary; or as a result of some criminal problems.  These are the two problems.

The assumptions. I have some assumptions about the insurgents.  These are the following. First, I think the insurgents are rational and they are not insane.  If they are irrational or insane, I wouldn’t waste my time speaking.  Second, their use of violence can be justified since there are the instruments and they use it as instruments.  Third, from their side, their cause could be seen as legitimate. I said from their side, their cause could be seen as legitimate. From the other side, of course, it is illegitimate. This is what I would call we are having the problems of discrepancy of perspectives.  Most of the problems we have are the same thing that Prof. McCargo is talking about truth yesterday. We are suffering from the same thing.

Fourth, I don’t think the insurgents are a monolithic group. I think they are diverse. I think they are fragmented. I think there are differences within them. And this is not unique to the Pattani group. I think it is everywhere in the world.  Lastly, I think the insurgents and their struggle could be influenced by world problems.  One can situate what they have done in the context of global problems. You go back 40 – 50 years….you can talk about the context of national independence. Half a century. You move forward 30 years. You have the issue of Islamic revolution..… Twenty years onwards. You have another change in the whole world. Last year, you have the Arab Spring.

So, you have different changes around the world that I’m sure in some way affects local issues. This local issue can be situated in the larger context as well. The use of terror was done in some parts.

Questions. The question I put before you, Mr. and Mrs. Insurgent, is this; how can the insurgents be helped so that they would no longer find the use of violence necessary? Yesterday, in my talk, I spoke a little bit about the use of violence and, in a nutshell, I’m saying violence kills power. Prof. McCargo asks me to elaborate.  I said something but didn’t make much sense. Let me try again. If you want to understand the relationship between violence and power, let’s try to understand the relationship between rape and sexuality. Rape kills and destroys sexuality.  In sexuality, you have love. You have understanding. You have intimacy. When rapes appear, those things disappear. That’s the end of sexuality. 

Similarly, when violence appears, power disappears.  So, the use of violence appears when you feel you are powerless. That’s the basic fact that most political scientists in the world fail to grap it, unfortunately.  They can debate on this any time. Now, as a result, there is a need for the insurgents to understand several things, at least three. I think their political agenda needs to be initiated and carefully formulated for the public sphere both in the local and national context.  Maybe they need help, I don’t know.

Second, they need to understand the effect of the use of violence for their cause more realistically. Third, they need to think more about the possibility of using non-violent methods instead of violence. There are all kinds of study of armed groups in the world. Some use 60 armed groups in four continents. They all came to a very similar conclusion and I want to read something for you. Again, this is not for you in this room but for the insurgents. This is a quote from Mr. Museveni from the head of Uganda’s resistant army. This guy is important and he said this. He said you must never do anything wrong. Therefore, when you select your target, you must select them very carefully. First of all, you must never attack non-combatants..never..never..never. This is the advice not from a moralist but from the leader of an armed group. What is important about Mr. Museveni because years later he became the president of Uganda.

Where is this ? This is in military review. A journal. And there are all kinds of study about this that needs to be understood. So, there is a dire need to understand more about non-violence. Ajarn Ahmad Somboon said that there are a lot of talks about non-violence, about  peace. I’m afraid there are much more to be done to understand how it works and what it is, exactly. Give you another example. There is an interview in Tunisia.  Tunisia was a case that inspires, if you will, the Arab Spring and it did so non-violently  and successfully. A journalist went to ask one of the organizers and say that when you are fighting the government for a long time, what happens if you have the guns? The organizer said they were asked if it would help citizens if they had the guns, the Tunisian said without hesitation that thousands of people would have died if people have access to guns. For them, to initiate or to use violence means the end of people’s power. That’s what inspires Tunesia and maybe Egypt. And look what happened in Syria. When the superpower came in with more support for the opposition. It has not stopped even as I speak.

The other thing you need to understand is this; you can look at the success rate of non-violent campaigns around the world from 1940 – 2006 as opposed to violent struggle. You have found, you will find the decline of success of violent struggle from 40 to 10 per cent, meaning in 1940s, the success rate was high for violent use and then to 2006, it went down.…. When you look at non-violence success, it moves from 40 to 70 per cent. My graph is simple.   Success of violence, from 40 to 10 per cent. Success of non-violence around the world, from 40 to 70 per cent.

Second thing you need to know, one has to ask questions if we continue with the use of violence, what will be achieved. I can say this. Five years after conflict has ended, probability of democracy is 4  per cent, if violence is used. And 41 per cent if non-violent action is used. If an armed group or a resistant group adopts violent approach. At the end of five years after the conflict, you will not have democracy. You will have only 4  per cent. Ten times as much if you use non-violent action.

Last point, probability of experiencing civil war after the conflict presumably ended. Within ten years after the conflicts, 43 per cent, you will have civil war if you use violent campaigns and 28 per cent if you have non-violent campaigns.

Now, I go back to the assumption. Dear Mr. Insurgent, I understand that you are rational. I understand that you are not insane. I understand that you want to fight for a cause. I think there is a dire need at this point to engage in a more fruitful search for political alternatives. McCargo has said that this is a political problem in need of political solution.  And political solution has to come from every side of the conflict. What is more needed now is to understand the violent effect on your causes. It is undermining you.  

I choose today to talk to insurgents because I have spent years talking to the state. I will continue to do so but I hope this forum, as a way to make sure that there is some kind of peace dialogue, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit face to face, it doesn’t mean that you have to be in closet. This is also a kind of dialogue and this is dialogue in the open. And, so, this is my humble submission to you. I am a Muslim but I am not part of the history of Patani. I’m fully aware of that.  But, as a peace researcher and as non-violent theorist, I think there is a lot that you need to understand about the dynamics of non-violent conflict that will make peace process more effective and more useful and less destructive for the whole society.

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