Activists rally in Bangkok against eviction of Karenni people from national park

PHOTO: Video screenshot from Facebook/ทะลุฟ้า - thalufah

Activists demanding justice for evicted Karenni forest-dwellers have rallied in Bangkok, calling on the government to support the ethnic communities ousted from Kaeng Krachan National Park. According to a Nation Thailand report, a procession of vehicles through the capital was led by P-move and the Save Bang Kloy group. The group is named after the village in the central province of Phetchaburi, where the evicted Karenni people live.

Protesters say the people have been living in the Kaeng Krachan forest well before it was officially designated a national park in 1981. In 2010, 57 Karenni families were moved out of the park, when the Thai government applied for UNESCO heritage status. At the time of their eviction, each family was promised 7 rai of fertile farmland. However, the families say the land they were given was not fertile and no crops could survive on it. As a consequence, they moved back into the forest in early 2021 and were promptly evicted by authorities.

At yesterday’s protest, activists called on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to provide acceptable land for the people to farm. The rally was led by political activist Chartchai Kaedam, who addressed the small crowd around noon on Soi Aree 7 off Phaholyothin Roa, calling on the ministry to stop legal action against 30 villagers from Bang Kloy and 10 activists from the Save Bang Kloy group.

Nation Thailand reports that activists are also demanding the ministry form a new committee to investigate the villagers’ land disputes. They also want the National Park Act amended, claiming it encroaches on the rights of forest dwellers in its current form. Furthermore, they are calling on the government to introduce a new “people’s bill” that recognises the rights and livelihoods of ethnic minorities.

The protest, which consisted of around 10 motorbikes, a pick-up truck, and a car, assembled at the Nang Lerng Intersection at around 12.30pm, where it was joined by activists from the Thalu Fah pro-democracy group. At 1.30pm, protesters made their way to the Finance Ministry and then the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Maya Taylor

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