Thailand: Deep South Rebel Leader Died in April, Sources Say

Nasueroh
2016.05.12
Pattani, Thailand
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160511-TH-Useng-620 This diagram shows a seven-step plan believed to have been devised by Ma-sae Useng (pictured).
Photo: Benar

Ma-sae Useng, a “core leader” of the southern Thai rebel group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), has died of natural causes at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, a relative of his and a Thai security official told BenarNews.

One of two de facto leaders of the BRN and who was believed to be the architect of a seven-step plan for a separate state in Thailand’s Deep South region known as “Patani,” 57-year-old Ma-sae died

April 30 of complications from pulmonary tuberculosis and diabetes, the sources said.

A spokesman for MARA Patani, an umbrella group representing various Deep South rebel groups in unofficial peace talks with the Thai government, confirmed the senior rebel’s death.

“But I do not know more details about it. This is an internal affair of BRN, and I can’t comment,” Abu Hafiz Al-Hakim told BenarNews.

Ma-sae was also leader of the youth wing of the BRN but he opposed current peace efforts between Thailand and MARA Patani, the Bangkok Post said Thursday in reporting on his death.

The BRN official was buried in Malaysia within 24 hours of his death, sources told Benar.

Fled in ‘04

Ma-Sae, who fled to neighboring Malaysia that year as the decades-long conflict re-ignited, was born in Cho-irong district in Narathiwat province.

He worked as a religious teacher at a local school before becoming a core BRN leader in the province, sources said.

The Thai military found his seven-step plan (pictured) when it raided his house 12 years ago.

At the time, Thai officials had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of treason and separatism, and they put out a 10 million baht (U.S. $283,700) bounty for his capture.

The government believed that he had led a rebel raid in which 413 weapons were stolen from the Pileng military camp in Narathiwat on Jan. 4, 2004.

More recently, high-ranking Thai officials in the Deep South had tried to persuade his relatives to get him to return to Thailand to spend his final days at home after he took ill in 2012, but he apparently refused to come back.

‘A good thing’

Prior to his removal last month as secretary of the Thai delegation negotiation with MARA Patani, Lt. Gen. Nakrob Boonbuathong told BenarNews that his team hoped that Ma-sae would participate in those efforts because he was seen as a figure who wielded ideological influence across the Deep South.

“I can’t believe it is true but if it is, it is good. It is a good thing because the organization will become weaker and there should be a pause in attacks,” another Thai military official, who requested anonymity, told BenarNews on Thursday.

“But there are many sub-groups under BRN, so we need to dissect the cause and find a way to make peace.”

The official was referring to a surge in suspected rebel attacks in the Deep South that had killed at least 37 people over the past three months.

On Thursday, four more killings were reported in the region. Two civilians were shot dead in Pattani province and a vendor and security officer were killed in a similar manner in nearby Narathiwat province, police said.

The BRN is the largest and most heavily armed of the separatist groups in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South, where more than 6,500 people have died since 2004 in violence associated with the insurgency.

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