ex. Game, Music, Video, Photography

Four murders and a bloody battle for land rights in Thailand

Supot Kalasong was driving home one afternoon in April when he heard a bang and assumed he had blown his newly-patched tire.

Ngày đăng: 14 tháng 9, 2021
Cập nhật: 3 tháng 1, 2023
Lượt xem: 310386561
Nguồn: vnexpress

Then he heard more bangs and realized gunfire was piercing his pickup truck door, hitting him six times on his right leg and twice on his right arm.

He was lucky, suffering only minor wounds. Since 2010, four people have been killed in Klong Sai Pattana, a small community in southern Surat Thani province, that has been locked in a bloody battle for the right to use government land.

"It is the worst case for land rights defenders - each place has people who are killed, but it's never this bad. And the state is never able to catch the perpetrator and prosecute them," said human rights lawyer Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla, of the Community Resource Centre Foundation.

A court had granted the government legal ownership of the land after a lawsuit over a palm oil company's expired concession. Villagers, who have occupied the land for at least eight years, say they helped the state win its case.

Now, however, the villagers face eviction as officials seek to redistribute the land in a convoluted dispute showing what little power small-scale farmers wield over land, as well as the bloodshed they suffer in defending land rights.

"The villagers sacrificed their blood, bodies and souls - with people losing their lives - to get this land back," said Pongtip Samranjit, director of Local Action Links, a Thai non-profit focusing on farmers' and peasants' rights.

The community blames the violence on mafia linked to the plantations. Over the years, three men were arrested but subsequently released on bail. One of the three was charged with murder but was acquitted in March.

Nobody has yet been convicted for the murders, Songsak Raksaksakul, deputy director of the Justice Ministry's Department of Special Investigation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Meanwhile, the government agency overseeing land redistribution for farmers is preparing to ask the ruling junta to use article 44 of the interim constitution - dubbed the "dictator's law" by the media - to drive the villagers off the 160-hectare plot.

The villagers and rights activists say they worked closely with the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) on the case against the company accused of occupying the area illegally.

But despite the court victory in 2014, the ALRO now says the villagers themselves are illegal occupants and must also leave.

"The ALRO is stabbing them in the back and going back on the deal with the villagers," Pongtip said.

The ALRO says the villagers had been allowed to stay on the land until the legal issues were resolved. But now that the court has ruled, ALRO Secretary General Sunsern Aggutamanus says the villagers must go so the land can be distributed fairly.

"They like to tell the media that they have chased the company out, but the fact is that a court ordered them out. They say they chased the bad people out, and now they should get the land," Sunsern said.

"I said no, that's not how it works. You have to register to be considered, along with other villagers. There are no privileges for these people ... If we can reclaim the land, then we will distribute it, but we have to do it fairly."

Landless farmers

Agriculture accounts for a tenth of Thailand's economy, with half the country's land used for farming, and more than a third of its workers employed as farmers.

Yet about a quarter of Thailand's 5.9 million farming households do not own land. Many are tenant farmers, mired in debt.

The ALRO, set up in 1975 to acquire land for farmers, has allocated about 5.6 million hectares to nearly 2.2 million people.

Sunsern says the ALRO has another 640,000 hectares it has been unable to distribute because of land conflicts, such as in Klong Sai Pattana.

Frustrated with the snail's pace of reforms, landless farmers from across Thailand banded together in 2008 to form the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT) to fight for a community land title, whereby they would collectively manage and use the ALRO allocated plot.

SPFT members moved into Klong Sai Pattana and worked with the government to become part of a pilot project to secure a community land title.

But first, the government had to oust the palm oil company whose concession had expired and was accused of trespass.

In a 2009 letter to the Surat Thani governor, the ALRO said a committee under the prime minister's office allowed the villagers to temporarily live on the land in Klong Sai Pattana "while the problem is being resolved".

According to Sunsern, the 2014 court verdict against the palm oil company was that resolution.

"The government said they could stay temporarily, until the court decision," he said.

An ALRO list shows nearly 20,000 people have registered for land allocations in Surat Thani province alone, and Sunsern says they all have equal right to vie for Klong Sai Pattana.

Pilot project for communitiy titles

Further complicating this dispute is a pilot project for community land titles, which included Klong Sai Pattana.

In 2010, Thailand's cabinet passed a law on the issuance of community land titles, which legally allows collective community management and use of state-owned land for their livelihoods.

Villagers and activists say they worked closely with the governments of former prime ministers Abhisit Vejjajiva and Yingluck Shinawatra, and Klong Sai Pattana was slated for the pilot project, but it never got the community land title.

Over the course of Klong Sai Pattana's struggle since 2008, the ruling government changed hands from one party to another, and finally to the military junta after a 2012 coup.

"The government is like this. When the government changes, they don't respect the old memorandums of understanding signed by the previous governments," said Pongtip of Local Action Links.

The committee in the prime minister's office overseeing the Klong Sai Pattana dispute was scheduled to visit the community this month to resolve the issue, but officials declined to be interviewed for this story.

In Klong Sai Pattana, villagers are coming to terms with the possibility of eviction if the ALRO succeeds in getting them kicked off the land.

Despite being shot, Supot, 41, does not see himself moving.

"I can't change my way of life anymore. I've always been a farmer, even my parents were farmers ... and I don't have the knowledge to do anything else," Supot said in an interview at the National Human Rights Commission in northern Bangkok.

"All of us in Klong Sai Pattana - we've always been farmers. And we ask the ALRO, 'Where will you put us, and who will look after all that we've built and planted?'"

Related news:

Thailand first in Asia to eliminate mother-to-baby HIV: WHO


Từ vựng liên quan

Tin tức liên quan

Automobile sales accelerate through April
business 20/09/2021

Automobile sales accelerate through April

markets | 328776567

April’s car sales in Vietnam saw an on-year increase of 42 percent to touch more than 25,000 units, said the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.

 Vingroup gets approval for vaccine production plant in Hanoi
business 03/08/2021

Vingroup gets approval for vaccine production plant in Hanoi

companies | 230086582

Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate, Vingroup, has received approval to build a vaccine production facility in Hanoi.

Vietnamese citizens to get five-year multi-entry visas to South Korea
news 16/09/2021

Vietnamese citizens to get five-year multi-entry visas to South Korea

news | 319476567

A new visa policy for Vietnamese citizens has been called a reciprocal gesture by the South Korean ambassador to Vietnam.

 Sun Life Vietnam signs deal with California Fitness & Yoga to sell insurance products
business 27/03/2021

Sun Life Vietnam signs deal with California Fitness & Yoga to sell insurance products

business | 107956609

Sun Life Vietnam Insurance Company Limited and California Fitness & Yoga on October 10 announced a partnership to provide a suite of insurance products to the latter’s members nationwide.

Infant nCoV patient a new infection path in Vietnam: expert
news 17/09/2021

Infant nCoV patient a new infection path in Vietnam: expert

news | 322006558

With a three-month-old baby getting infected, the novel coronavirus epidemic has entered new transmission territory in Vietnam, an expert says.

State investment agency to auction stake in prawn cracker maker
business 24/09/2021

State investment agency to auction stake in prawn cracker maker

companies | 337576552

The State Capital Investment Corporation will auction its entire 49.89 percent stake in prawn cracker maker Sa Giang Import-Export JSC.

 Vietnam reasserts rejection of all illegal East Sea claims
news 15/01/2022

Vietnam reasserts rejection of all illegal East Sea claims

news | 366136562

Vietnam reaffirmed Friday its opposition to all claims that are not consistent with international laws including UNCLOS, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

 PM proposes focused promotion of bilateral ties with Japan
news 25/11/2021

PM proposes focused promotion of bilateral ties with Japan

news | 355836561

PM Pham Minh Chinh said Tuesday that the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and Japan was at its best and suggested that it is further strengthened in six focus areas.

African swine fever spreads to another Vietnam province
news 22/09/2021

African swine fever spreads to another Vietnam province

news | 333966564

The African swine fever has spread to the north-central province of Thanh Hoa with the first outbreak detected on a farm this week.

This is why Saigon cracks into the world
travel 15/09/2021

This is why Saigon cracks into the world's top 10 cities for solo travelers

travel | 313796565

Vietnam's southern metropolis has been voted among the friendliest in the world.

Chủ đề liên quan

Link Tài Trợ - Sponsored Links

Công Thức Vật Lý
Loading…