Anti-mine villagers urge authorities to look into mining impact

Thai villagers from seven provinces came together to petition the authorities to resist mining activities, demanding an investigation into health impacts allegedly resulting from mining.

According to the Neo E-Saan Movement facebook page, a Facebook group promoting community rights in the northeastern Isan region, representatives of villagers from seven provinces of Thailand’s north and northeast, including Nakhon Sawan, Loei, Saraburi and Phichit provinces gathered on Wednesday morning in Bangkok to submit petitions to several state agencies.

Anti-mine villager representatives wait for state officials to receive their petition (Photo from Pattraporn Tanngam, Thai PBS journalist)   

The petition demands that the relevant state agencies investigate the alleged impact upon villagers’ health caused by the activities of mining businesses in the provinces and to reconsider the state mining concessions given to them.

The petition also calls on the junta to amend the 1999 Mining Act and other acts related to the extraction of mineral resources in order to more effectively offset future environmental impacts from mining.       

In the statement, the representatives of the villagers claim that according to blood samples collected by the Central Forensic Medicine Institute and Rangsit University, about 400 people from the villages adjacent to mining areas have excessive heavy metal concentrations in their blood.

At 11 am, the group submitted the petition to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Bangkok.

The banner reads “Reform the [process of giving out] state concessions, return justice and resources to all the people” (Photo from Pattraporn Tanngam)

They also plan to submit the same petition to the authorities at Government House, the Ministry of Industry, and the Department of Primary Industries and Mines in the afternoon.

In addition, villagers in Wang Saphung District of the northeastern province of Loei on Wednesday morning gathered together for a Buddhist merit-making ceremony to commemorate the ‘15 Black May’ event in 2014, when about 300 armed men believed to be associated with the mining interests beat up villagers who tried to prevent them from transporting mineral ore.

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