Tue, 16/12/2014 - 10:53
More than 100 farmers in a northeastern province face charges on land
encroachment as a result of the junta's Return the Forest policy, after the
military prohibited the farmers from holding a public discussion to voice
their concerns to the military government.
Laothai Nimnuan, the coordinator of Isan Farmers’ Federation of Thailand’s
Northeast, told Prachatai that more than 60 military and police officers on
Monday stormed into the venue planned for the public discussion on land
rights and forced the organizers to cancel the meeting.
He added that the military also recorded the names of all participants and
requested the police to keep track of the participants’ journeys home.
The cancelled discussion on ‘Sustainable solutions for forest and land
management of the people’ was organized on Thursday along with other
regional farmers’ networks to gather opinions among northeastern farmers in
order to write a petition to M.L. Panadda Diskul, Minister of the Prime
The meeting took place at Ashram Ban Thai, the facility of the Isan
Farmer’s Federation in Kantharawichai District of the northeastern province
of Maha Sarakham, on Monday.
“We have to thank the military, even though we did not talk, we know that
our brothers and sisters were motivated,” Laothai said to Prachatai.
He mentioned that the military’s measures to shut people’s mouths actually
reignited people’s spirits, make them more united to fight with the junta’s
unjust policies, especially the junta’s “Return the Forest” policy, and
drive more people against the military regime.
Military, police officers, and civil servants stormed into Ashram Ban
Thai, the facility of the Isan Farmer’s Federation in Kantharawichai
District of the northeastern province of Maha Sarakham on Monday morning.
Earlier on Sunday, the military summoned Leamlek Nimnuan, advisor of the
group and two other committee members of the Isan Farmers’ Federation for a
discussion from the afternoon until 8 pm. The military told him they if he
did not comply, he would be arrested.
Although the meeting was cancelled, Laothai and other leaders of the
federation concluded that currently there are 103 farmers in Isan facing
charges and that 1,764 warrants have been issued against farmers. If the
junta continues to implement its policy to return the forest, 5-6 million
rai of land (about 2,370,000 acres) will be reclaimed and about 30,000
people will be affected.
The Isan Farmers’ Federation has summed up the following demands to the
1. Stop intimidating, arresting, and evicting people who have been
living off the land and allow them to continue utilising the land
2. Temporarily halt impending legal cases against farmers and allow
the cases to be investigated by the National Human Rights Commission, the
Lawyers Council, and Office of the Ombudsman.
3. Provide compensation for farmers whose homesteads and farmlands
have been destroyed according to the loss and allow them to continue using
4. If the state wants to protect the forest, then the government
should arrest investors and new land encroachers. Moreover, state projects
and concessions for mining and building dams in forest areas should be
cancelled and revoked.
5. Review the implementation of Orders 64/2014 and 66/2014 to protect
the forest until changes are made.
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