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PARTNI UNITED LIBERATION ORGANIZATION. A Muslim separatist organization in Thailand, the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO) was established in 1968 by Tenku Bira Kotanila, who claimed to speak on behalf of Malay Muslims living in the four southern Thai provinces of Pattani (spelled Patani in Malay), Narathiwat, Yala, and Satun. Its goal is to detach these provinces from Thailand and combine them into an independent state based on Islamic principles. The creation of such a state is considered essential in order to preserve the “Malayness” and Islamic way of life of the local Malay Muslims, which are perceived to be threatened by the assimilationist policies of successive Thai governments. PULO also considers Thailand to be an occupying power from whom independence can be wrested only through the use of armed force.

PULO’s emphasis on protecting the Malay and Islamic character of these Malay Muslims through achieving independence for the area serves as the basis for its political mobilization efforts, since the wide appeal of the agenda cuts across social classes and secular and religious boundaries; it has proved particularly attractive to younger, more militant Malay Muslims. It has also attracted moral, financial, and other support from Malaysian individuals and organizations associated either directly or indirectly with the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS), which draws most of its political support from Muslims in Malaysian states bordering Thailand. Another source of external support is the Middle East, where financial contributions are made to PULO, usually in the name of charity, by some governments, by organizations such as the Islamic Call Society in Libya, and by a few wealthy individuals. Furthermore, one faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization has provided training in Syria for small groups of PULO guerrillas.

PULO has a fairly sophisticated organizational structure with a central committee, headed by a chairman, at the top. Under the central committee is a secretariat with political, economic, military, and foreign sections. Policy-making headquarters are in Mecca, and operational headquarters are in Kelantan, Malaysia. Within Thailand, PULO guerrillas conduct both military and political activities.

In 1981 PULO claimed twenty thousand members, a figure that probably was exaggerated. Independent estimates of PULO guerrillas operating in three of the provinces (no separatist guerrilla activity has been noted in Satun) have previously ranged from around two hundred to six hundred. In the early 1990s, however, PULO’s membership was smaller than before, and the number of guerrillas was thought to be fewer than a hundred. This is largely owing to the fact that in the mid-1980s Saudi authorities became disturbed by PULO activities such as openly issuing citizen identification cards, in the name of the Patani Republic, to Malay Muslim workers from Thailand in Saudi Arabia. PULO headquarters in Mecca were raided, some of the staff were arrested, about seven hundred PULO members were deported, and Tenku Bira Kotanila was replaced as chairman by Dr. Ar-rong Moorang. These developments left the organization in disarray, and it is still trying to regroup.

[See also Thailand.]


Che Man, W. K. Muslim Separatism: The Moros of Southern Philippines and the Malays of Southern Thailand. Singapore and New York, 1990), Includes the most detailed information available to the public as regards the organization and activities of the Patani United Liberation Organization and other Muslim separatist groups in South Thailand.

Dulyakasem, Uthai. “The Emergence and Escalation of Ethnic Nationalism: The Case of the Muslim Malays in Southern Siam.” In Islam and Society in Southeast Asia, edited by Taufik Abdullah and Sharon Siddique, pp. 208-249. Singapore, 1986. Perceptive examination of the factors explaining the emergence and development of ethnic nationalism and separatist organizations among the Malay Muslims of South Thailand.

Satha-Anand, Chaiwat. Islam and Violence: A Case Study of Violent Events in the Four Southern Provinces, Thailand, 1976-1981. Tampa, 1986. Discusses in some depth acts of violence in South Thailand involving Malay Muslim separatist organizations, including the Patani United Liberation Organization, and shows how Islam is used to rationalize political violence.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/partni-united-liberation-organization/

  • writerPosted On: June 25, 2017
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