Civil society groups on long march for land rights

Thailand’s marginalised communities countrywide staged rallies to call for land rights amid tight monitoring from the authorities.   

People’s Movement for Just Society (P-Move) and Northern Development Foundation (NDF), civil society groups promoting land rights for Thailand’s landless communities, staged a rally on Tuesday morning, 22 December 2015, at the Three Kings Monument Square in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

Similar rallies initiated called ‘First Step for Thailand’s Land Reform’ were held in 18 other provinces countrywide to urge the authorities to halt the implementation of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 64/2104 issued to reclaim protected forests and to come up with concrete policies to grant community land rights to the poor.

In Chiang Mai, about 100 people participated in the rally on Tuesday morning. The group will march to Lamphun Province to observe the Supreme Court’s verdict on Wednesday on a land dispute between Lamphun residents and investors before continuing on a long march to Bangkok.

According to P-Move, it has been well over 405 days since a committee comprising government officials and civil society groups was formed to solve the protracted land rights issue, but nothing concrete has been done.

On the contrary, it seems as if the current military government has abandoned its intentions to solve the problem, added P-Move on its Facebook page.

P-Move concluded that about 400 marginalised communities countrywide are now at risk of eviction as the military government’s forest protection policy is still in place.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that in Chiang Mai, police officers at about 10:30 am informed the rally participants as they were passing the Kawila Military Base that they might be charged with a violation of the Public Assembly Law and took pictures of rally participants.

Ten military officers tightly monitored the event as it started at the Three Kings Monument in Chiang Mai, TLHR reported.

A rally calling for land rights and reform in Chiang Mai Province on 22 December 2015 (courtesy of Northern Peasants Federation)

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