Nakhon Ratchasima villagers protest against monastery for ignoring ancient site encroachment order

Photo: Sanook

Villagers from Luang Ta Kien and Ta Kien Thong, Huai Thalaeng district, Nakhon Ratchasima, staged a protest today against an unidentified monastery that has encroached on an ancient site. Despite an order by the Department of Fine Arts nearly a year ago to dismantle the structure, no action has been taken. The villagers, who have filed multiple cases against the monastery, are growing disillusioned.

The ancient site controversy began about a year ago when villagers complained to several government agencies that the monastery had built a building over the Ban Luang Ta Kien stone temple, commonly known as the Kok Prasat Temple. This construction hindered the locals from visiting and performing rituals, leading to a thorough investigation by multiple governmental departments.

On September 29, last year the Department of Fine Arts ordered the monastery to dismantle the religious building built over the stone temple. Despite the villagers’ joy and hope of reclaiming their ancient stone temple, no enforcement of this order has taken place nearly a year later. It was initially understood that the monastery had sought legal protection from this order until the court made a verdict or another order. Consequently, the villagers have once again united to demand action.

Samruay Sutthiphata, one of the protesting villagers, revealed that when the Department of Fine Arts originally ordered the removal of the religious building from the stone temple, there was a general sense of jubilation among the villagers. They were hopeful that their beloved ancient stone temple would be returned to them. They even had plans for a merit-making festival in the sixth month, where they would pay respects to their ancestors residing in the stone temple, a tradition passed down through the generations. However, the building was never dismantled, and the villagers had to conduct the festival at the village hall as they had done since the construction of the monastery, which had restricted their access to the temple.

Initially, almost all villagers agreed with the demand to reclaim the Ban Luang Ta Kien stone temple. However, as the case progressed with no sign of the villagers reclaiming the temple easily, and several village leaders were prosecuted with multiple charges, including robbery, perjury, defamation, and other cases, many villagers began to lose heart, reported Sanook.

They decided not to continue their fight due to previous instances where their complaints to the Department of Fine Arts led to orders to cease construction, but the monastery did not comply and continued to expand, resulting in the large monastery seen today.

Currently, only a handful of villagers continue to fight for their claim, unwilling to let the ancient stone temple, a symbol of their heritage, become someone’s private property, reported Sanook.

Follow Thaiger’s latest stories on our new Facebook page HERE.

Thailand News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

Related Articles