PHUKET: Police are preparing to press grievous bodily harm charges against a businessman accused of cutting the oxygen line of a sea gypsy diving off Nui Beach in January, Lt Col Peerapan Meemak of Chalong Police Station announced at a meeting at Provincial Hall to discuss Rawai sea gypsies’ fishing rights.
“I received a report from two sea gypsies on January 31 that someone cut their oxygen line while they were diving about 4 pm that day,” Col Peerapan said.
“The next morning the suspect was found and the sea gypsies identified him as the man who cut their oxygen line. I am now completing the report to be sent to the Public Prosecutor, who will press charges.”
The meeting, chaired by Phuket Vice-Governor Tri Augkaradacha, was attended by Suthin Baromajet from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and representatives from the Rawai sea gypsy community and the Rawai Tambon Administration Organization.
Chana Hadsaithong, a sea gypsy from the Rawai community, said, “I’m one of six who were threatened by a businessman. I need the Muang District Chief or the Vice-Governor to help us.
“We cannot work like we did before, we feel at risk. We need to know why tourists can dive around the island but we can’t. Even the fish trap that the Fisheries Department gave us was destroyed by someone.”
V/Gov Tri said that he was aware of the threats made against the sea gypsies and that it had been reported to Chalong Police. He asked the departments responsible to outline diving areas for the sea gypsies and to explain any laws regarding diving to them.
Rawai sea gypsy Niran Yangpan added that some people were still being threatened by a businessman at Yanui Beach.
“If someone threatens you like this again, you can contact me. I will follow up it myself,” V/Gov Tri replied.
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