Villager allegedly abused by police meets NHRC

An embattled villager facing eviction has filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), alleging that police officers abused her.

Chatdaporn Seelae, a villager from Nong Phai Lom Village, Nong Sarai Subdistrict, Pak Chong District, in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, at 1 pm on Thursday, 11 February 2016, submitted a letter to the NHRC Office in Bangkok.

The letter was accepted by Angkhana Neelapaijit, the head of the NHRC Subcommittee for Political Rights. It urges the NHRC to investigate police officers who earlier arrested and allegedly abused Chatdaporn in an attempt to evict her from a disputed land plot to which the police lay claim.

Many villagers who live on the disputed land plot have also been intimidated by police officers, stated the letter.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on 4 February, 10 police officers attempted to demolish the fence of a house belonging to Chatdaporn while she was absent. When she arrived at the house the officers handcuffed her and put her into a van. TLHR added that the officers physically and verbally abused Chatdaporn, beating her and harassing her with abusive words.

The officers later took Chatdaporn to a canteen of a police training centre in Nong Sarai Subdistrict, before transferring to Nong Sarai Police Station where she was interrogated until the next morning.

The police officers informed her during the interrogation that she was accused of attempting to prevent officers from performing their duties, refusing to sign a police report on her arrest and insulting police officers. She was released after the police granted her 30,000 baht bail.

Later, Chatdaporn filed a complaint against Pol Lt Kantapoj Rodchom, accusing the officer of unlawful detention, ill-treatment, malfeasance, and causing loss of property. She also travelled to Pak Chong Hospital to undergo a medical examination to record evidence of ill-treatment.

Pas Intharaprapong, a lawyer representing Chatdaporn, reported that the land dispute between villagers of Nong Phai Lom and the authorities has been ongoing for many years. Despite the fact that most of the 80 households residing in the village have settled in the area for decades, the land in fact belongs to the Treasury Department. The Department later allowed the Royal Thai Police to use the area as a training ground provided that the police relocated local villagers and made sure that they would not be affected by the relocation.

Pas reported that the police promised to build new houses for the villagers on 50 rai of land near their original homes, but the new houses have not been constructed and the villagers do not trust the authorities over the relocation plan.

He added that 10 families have agreed to relocate, but the new houses which the authorities promised them are nowhere to be seen and that the authorities have demolished several houses of the local people already.

Chatdaporn claimed in the letter to the NHRC that in 2013, the Subcommittee of the Rights over Land and Forest under the former National Human Rights Commissioners issued Resolution 24/2013, urging the police to halt the eviction and organise a forum to allow the locals to express their opinions on the plan. However, the NHRC Resolution was never implemented.

Angkhana said that the NHRC will look into the matter.

Chatdaporn Seelae hands a letter to Angkhana Neelapaijit, head of the NHRC Subcommittee for Political Rights, on 11 February 2016.