The network of Thai poor people pressed the junta to rethink about its forest protection policies and come up with strategies to reduce prevalent socio-economic inequity in Thai society at the first official meeting between the group and the junta.
Around 100 members of People’s Movement for Just Society (P-Move) and other affiliated organizations, such as Land Reform Network of Isan (Thailand’s northeast), Four Regions Slum Network, and five others civil organizations, gathered in front of the parliament on Friday morning to talk to Panadda Diskul, the Minister of the Prime Minister (PM) Office, and submit petition to continue to press the government on land reforms and community rights.
Jamnong Nupan, the president of Four Regions Slum Network, stating the group's stance to the press on Friday morning
At the meeting, the civil society group issued the following demands to the government in a joint statement:
- The government must come up with strategies to fix the structural problems which has been affecting the poor chronically in order to get rid of inequity problem. For examples, the operations of the Land Bank Administration Institute, the community title deed project, urban poverty problem, Pak Mun Dam problem, and ethnic problems face by Orang Laut (Seafarers), homeless, and Karen groups.
- The government should stop all operations and order relevant agencies to reconsider the agendas and measures of forest protection policies and the policy to manage natural resources. People who have been affected by these policies should be allowed to participate in the solutions.
- The government should come up with the policies on land ownerships by issuing four laws, which are community rights and the use of community resources law, land Bank law, progressive land tax law, and law on the provision of legal assistance fund.
- The government should establish the sub-committee for helping the the members of P-move to improve immediate problems faced by its members together with other governmental agencies to fix the problems effectively.
Panadda said during the meeting that he attended many meetings with civil organizations in many regions, but the information and complains of the many civil groups are still incoherent. However, he mentioned that all the problems proposed must be dealt with before the election.
P-Move and its affiliated organizations has been campaigning about community rights and land rights since early June 2014 after the junta issued Order No. 64/2014 and 66/2014 to protect the forest, which affected a lot of the country’s poor.
In October 2014, the group and the Northern Land Reform Organization organized a rally titled ‘First Step Towards Land Reform’ in the northern province of Chiang Mai. Although the rally was forced cancelled by the military who claimed that it was illegal under the martial law, the movement led the government officials to establish a committee to tackle the problems and hold discussions with the group, the first of which was officially held on Friday morning.