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PEACE FOR THAILAND
(Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E744]
                           PEACE FOR THAILAND

                                 ______
                                 

                              HON. TED POE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, May 23, 2013

  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, at 1.8 million people, Thailand is 
home to the third largest ethnic Malay population in the world. Since 
2004, extremists in the country have been fighting the government for 
an independent state for the ethnic group. This has been one of the 
bloodiest conflicts in Southeast Asia and has left nearly 5,000 people 
dead.
  According to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, in the 
past four years alone, more than 1,400 people have died and 3,200 have 
been wounded. The violence has killed indiscriminately. Fatalities have 
included soldiers, policemen, village leaders, monks, teachers, and 
innocent civilians. While most of those killed were the victims of 
shootings, there have also been nearly 600 improvised explosive device 
attacks and 40 beheadings since January 2009.
  Thankfully, it is possible this cycle of violence could be coming to 
an end.
  With the help of Malaysian mediators, the chairman of the Thai 
National Security Council and a representative of one of the Malay 
separatist groups active in the region, Barisan Revolusi Nasional 
(BRN), signed an agreement in February to formally begin peace talks. 
Reports indicate former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's 
started talks behind the scenes years ago that helped lead to this 
milestone agreement. He should be commended for those efforts.
  Public peace talks between the government and the rebels will be a 
big step forward in solving the conflict in southern Thailand. While 
previous attempts have been made, this marks the first time that both 
sides have agreed in writing to hold talks.
  Mr. Speaker, the progress that is slowly being achieved in southern 
Thailand is significant, and we should hope that it continues until 
there is lasting peace throughout the country. And that's just the way 
it is.

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