The Reconciliation Promotion Center in the southern border province of Pattani has been recognized for its role in ensuring justice for persons suspected of creating unrest and for its success in encouraging perpetrators to make a fresh start.
Based on the principles of human rights, the operations of the center, now headed by Director Colonel Piyavat Nakvanich, have helped bring down violent incidents in the deep South.
Established in 2004, this center was formerly called Wiwat Santi Center, which was renamed the Reconciliation Promotion Center in October 2006. It is located in the Ingkhayut Borihan Military Camp, supervised by the Fourth Army Area Command, in Nong Chik district. In the initial stage, the center’s mission was mainly to interrogate those suspected of being involved in disturbances in the southern provinces. But since then, it has placed emphasis on providing them with better understanding about the government’s policies in the South, so that they would be willing to cooperate with officials in restoring peace in the southern border provinces.
The detainees, and many others, had been misled into joining groups intent on committing violence, or they joined factions with other dangerous intentions. Some of them joined out of fear for the safety of their life and property. Confusion about the government was spread among them, and they were urged to hate state officials. Most of the suspects in the center said that, prior to being detained, they had negative attitudes toward the operations of officials, as they were afraid of being treated unfairly or being tortured. This could be observed from their unfriendly manner and refusal to give cooperation with officials in their early days of detention.
Officials at the center treat them with sincerity and honesty and make friends with them; they also invite Muslim resource persons to educate the detainees in proper Islamic principles. Both the detainees and their families are invited to carry out religious and sports activities together with officials, especially during the period when relatives are allowed to meet the detainees. They are also provided with knowledge on how to translate the Sufficiency Economy philosophy into action.
Following the process of enhancing better understanding, most of the perpetrators have been found to have better understanding about the problems in the South, so they would like to reform their attitudes and cooperate with officials. As a result, officials have received more information about the network of perpetrators in the deep South, particularly the places where weapons and explosives are hidden by those who have caused so much turmoil. The suspects also show their interest in reforming by leading officials in searches for the weapons, and by so doing, officials are able to reduce violent incidents and casualties.
After the end of the process, the suspects will be sent back home. Many of them have asked to work at the Reconciliation Promotion Center, while others have come to visit officials from time to time on a social basis. This shows that they would like to be good citizens and do not want to be connected with perpetrators of violent incidents.
In order to support the operations of the Reconciliation Promotion Center, Dr. Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, Director-General of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, under the Ministry of Justice, has sent a team to conduct scientific tests, with an emphasis on the DNA profile of evidence and people. The institute has established a DNA database and a small laboratory there to collect evidence at the scene, such as that concerning explosive materials, to prove whether a suspect is involved in an act of violence or not. This will lead to an arrest of wrongdoers and a release of innocent people. The accurate information gained from scientific tests will help in the interrogation process. Dr. Khunying Porntip and her staff have also trained military staff on methods for finding evidence with forensic science. In some cases, the DNA profile shows that suspects are connected with narcotics. Results of the tests are analyzed and sent to the military or the police for further investigations.