[JURIST] Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] announced Friday that the Thai government [official website, in Thai] may grant amnesty to Islamic insurgents, but that it still supports Buddhists who have armed themselves for protection. Surayud, who replaced former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] after a bloodless coup last year, promised to end the violence in the southern region of the country. While amnesty was discussed when Thaksin was in power, his government rejected the proposal, and instead increased military power and restricted civil liberties [JURIST report] in the region.
Surayud's announcement comes on the heels of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report that criticized the Thai government for using militias [report text] for security in the southern provinces. HRW said that the armed villager forces were misusing their weapons, using excessive force, and furthering violence. AP has more.