Front Line Defenders
A demonstration organized by the Souhtern Peasants' Federation of Thailand last year (Photo curtesy of Front Line Defenders)
On 8 November 2013, shots were fired in the air by unidentified men to intimidate members of the Khlong Sai Pattana community, which is affiliated with the Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT). This is part of an ongoing series of attacks and intimidation targeting human rights defenders affiliated with SPFT.
The SPFT is a network formed in 2008 to campaign for the right to agricultural land in the Khlong Sai Pattana community in Chaiburi District, Surat Thani Province and other areas in the region.
On 3 November 2013 at around 9:30am, around twenty committee representatives from Khlong Sai Pattana community saw 4-6 men spraying pesticide on the area by the main road of the village. The community sent a representative to inform the men that the land on which they were spraying pesticide was occupied by the community. The community activists noticed that the men carried pistols on their hips. The men left the community soon after, and it is reported that they travelled in two pick-up vehicles. One was a red Isuzu with the licence plate: Bor Jor 2910 Surat Thani Province; the other was a Bronze Toyota with the licence plate: Kor Kor 6128 Krabi Province.
On 8 November 2013, community representatives went to Chaiburi Police Station to file a complaint about the presence of these men in their community. While they were travelling towards the main road, they noticed two vehicles resembling those they had seen on 3 November 2013. Upon seeing the community representatives, one of the men opened the window and fired two gunshots in the air before driving away. The community representatives tried to chase them but were unable to do so.
The SPFT has actively supported the Khlong Sai Pattana community in an ongoing land dispute involving Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co. Ltd., a palm oil company. The governmental Agricultural Land Reform Office (ARLO) claims to rightfully own the land and sued the Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co. Ltd. for illegal land encroachment in 2007. The ARLO won the case in the first instance and appeal courts. The case is currently before the High Court. Until the dispute is resolved, the government has granted the Khong Sai Pattana community full entitlement to the 1355 Rai (535 Acres) in question – the community occupies 200 Rai (70 Acres) of this.
Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co. Ltd. has filed several suits against SPFT members on allegations that its campaigns are affecting the company's business interests. Furthermore, SPFT members have faced mounting violence. In 2009, tractors destroyed 60 of the 120 houses in the Khlong Sai Pattana community. The tractors reportedly belonged to Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co. Ltd. In 2010, human rights defender and SPFT affiliate, Mr Somporn Pattaphum, was shot and killed in the area.
In October 2012, a woman farmer from the community was threatened by an armed, unidentified man in a truck who told her that the community should vacate the area.
On 19 November 2012, human rights defenders and SPFT members, Ms Montha Chukaew and Ms Pranee Boonrat, were shot and killed while travelling to a local market.
Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned by the recent attacks and acts of intimidation against members of the Khlong Sai Pattana community, which is affiliated with the SPFT.