Internal security officers in northeastern Thailand have filed a lawsuit against a man who allegedly posted a picture on Facebook of the officers trying to evict villagers.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), military officers from Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) of the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum on Tuesday summoned Adisak Yimram, 34, an employee of the forest fire protection unit under the Royal Forestry Department regarding a Facebook picture which he allegedly posted.
The Facebook picture, which was posted on 17 March on the Facebook page of the Assembly of the Poor, a civil society organisation, shows several Royal Forestry Department officials inspecting the cassava plantations of the villagers in Ban Kam Noi Community of Muang District in Chaiyaphum Province.
Bam Kam Noi village is in a disputed area, which was designated as a protected area in Tad Ton National Park in 1981 although in 1978 the local administration acknowledged the existence of the village.
In 2013, the local authorities filed charges against 11 villagers who allegedly encroached into the protected area. However, the local administration allowed the villagers to stay and the land dispute was in the process of finding a solution.
During the interrogation, the military asked whether Adisak posted the picture. Adisak admitted that he took the picture, but told the officers that he did not post it. Later, the officers filed a lawsuit against Adisak under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Code for importing false information into a computer system, according to TLHR.
According to the Facebook post of the Assembly of the Poor, 10 officers from the Royal Forestry Department, four military officers, and three policemen came to inspect the cassava plantations of Ban Kam Noi villagers on 17 March and attempted to force the villagers to sign an agreement accepting the evacuation of their village.
The villagers did not sign the agreement and were briefly detained by the officers, added the Assembly of the Poor.
Last week, the Assembly of the Poor issued a statement to condemn the junta’s forest protection policies, saying that the policies harm the country’s poor.
The statement pointed out that after the junta issued Orders 64/2014 and 66/2014 in June 2014 to protect and reclaim Thailand’s protected areas, many poor communities countrywide have been evicted by the authorities.
The alleged photo which led to the lawsuit