Thai military threatens landless southern villagers

The military surrounded a village in southern Thailand and told landless villagers to leave a disputed area while threatening a villager not to take pictures of the event.
 
According to Protection International (PI), at about 5:30 pm on Tuesday five military men came to Phoemsap Community of Chai Buri District in the southern province of Surat Thani and ordered the landless villagers to leave the area.
 
The military also reportedly threatened a villager with arrest and interrogation at a military camp if he took pictures of the military operation. 
 
The military claimed to have received an urgent order to control the area, which has been in dispute between the local villagers and Thai Boonthong, an oil palm company.
 
The disputed land belongs to the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ARLO), who in 2010 allowed the villagers to settle on the plot since the company’s concession ended 14 years ago. However, the company has not moved out.
 
In the morning of the same day, Peerat Bunrit, one of the leaders of Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT) from the district, who has been active in promoting the interests of the landless Chai Buri villagers, was brought to the so-called ‘attitude adjustment camp’ at the Vibhavadee Rangsit Military Camp in Surat Thani for three days. The military claimed the summons was for a “good environment conducive to returning happiness to the Thai people.”       

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