Authorities harass a landless farmers community, local NGO reports
SURAT THANI – According to a report by the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT), government officials have been trying to intimidate a community of landless farmers in Surat Thani province several times over the past year.
In the most recent incident on 21 December, a group of 15 armed officials entered and dismantled one of the community’s security gates. They also reportedly held two community members in custody, took their phones and deleted photos of the incident.
The SPFT believes the officials want access to a road built by the community to transport palm fruit from the surrounding plantations. But the residents are worried this could affect the security situation of their community.
SPFT, a local NGO, established the village of Klong Sai Pattana in 2008 on land illegally occupied by a palm fruit plantation. During this time, four community members were shot dead in what is known as one of Thailand’s most dangerous land rights conflicts.
“The arrival of the officials was not a peaceful action but rather a sign of repression. If they wanted to do this nonviolently, they should have talked with us,” said community leader Pratheep Rakhangthong according to a press release by the NGO Protection International. “We put up these barricades to protect ourselves because we already lost four members of our community. We do not want to see further loss.”
Pratheep argued that the road the officials want to use is crucial to the community’s security. “We want to have the power to manage our own security to prevent further loss and intimidation,” he said.
Read our story about the work of the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT) here.
Source: Protection International