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Sea gypsies petition Governor over violence – again

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Villagers from the Rawai sea gypsy community have once again petitioned Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit, saying that their safety and way of life continues to be threatened by the bullying tactics of some tourism business operators.

On Thursday, 10 sea gypsies led by Niran Yangpan submitted a formal letter of complaint addressed to Governor Niran and the Damrongtham Center at Phuket Provincial Hall, which serves as the provincial ombudsman’s office.

The letter stated that on February 11 three foreign tourists hired Rawai sea gypsy Pian Sae-ngor to take them to Koh Hei by longtail boat.

While the tourists were ashore and K. Pian was moored off the island waiting for them to return, three other longtail boat operators approached him and forcibly removed the engine from his vessel, warning him never to return to the island, the letter read.

The boat engine was later returned when some witnesses to the incident intervened and negotiated a compromise, K. Niran Yangpan told the Gazette.

“We want to inform the governor that we are local people who need to work for a living, so we need the provincial government to help ensure our security when doing so,” he said.

The Damrongtham Center accepted the letter and has arranged for the sea gypsies to meet Gov Niran tomorrow at 10 am.

The incident was only the latest in a series of similar events, K. Niran said. Last February, some 100 Rawai sea gypsies petitioned him to help settle an ongoing, violent dispute over fishing rights near resorts after one of their members suffered decompression sickness after having his oxygen supply hose cut while diving off Nui Beach on December 31, 2006.

The hose was allegedly cut by a resort operator on a jet-ski who didn’t want the sea gypsies fishing activities to spoil the view of visiting tourists, the plaintiff said.

The man was charged with attempted murder and the case is still being heard in court.

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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