The military in southern Thailand have summoned villagers campaigning against a junta development project to a military base.
On 19 February 2017, the Assembly of the Poor, a civil society organisation advocating for marginalised communities in Thailand, reported via its Facebook page that 15 soldiers have visited villagers of Tha Sae District in the southern province of Chumphon.
The soldiers summoned 15 villagers, some of whom had planned to travel to Government House in Bangkok on 20 February to submit a petition against the Tha Sae Reservoir Project. The project risks the forced relocation of local villagers.
The soldiers wanted to take the villagers to Krom Luang Chumphon military base for ‘a discussion’. However, the villagers refused to go, claiming it was already late afternoon. They were then ordered to go to the military base the next day.
Faced with opposition from locals, the junta halted the Tha Sae Reservoir Project back in 2008.
On 9 February 2017, Maj Gen Udomwit Anowan, Commander of the 44th Military Circle, concluded in a meeting with Narong Phonla-iat, Governor of Chumphon, and other public officials that the project will go ahead after a decade of delay.
He promised the authorities will minimise the effects of the reservoir on local communities.
Soldiers visiting villagers of Tha Sae District opposing the Tha Sae Reservoir Project on 19 February 2017 (Photo from Phichai Chanchuang's Facebook page)