Southern peasant federation members face criminal charges

Police in southern Thailand have arrested eight landless farmers for allegedly occupying the land of development companies.  

Representatives of the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT) on 25 April 2017 submitted a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Bangkok after the arrest of eight villagers from Nam Daeng Pattana Development Community, one of six communities of the SPFT, located in Chai Buri District of Surat Thani.

The eight are accused of criminal association and occupying the property of World Resources Development Company Limited, a mining and extractive company in Yala province and Equatorial Communication (Thailand) Company Limited.

In the letter, the group said their community rights have been violated and requested the NHRC to visit the community, adding that most of the community are landless farmers who have lived on the empty land since 2008.  

Four of the eight villagers have been released on bail while another four are still detained at Chai Buri District Police Station.

Two were freed on 270,000 baht bail each while another two were granted 600,000 baht bail each.

The Nam Daeng Pattana Community was established on 19 February 2008 at a gathering of 167 landless farmers who proceeded according to the Cabinet Resolution of 26 August 2003 and the 2007 Thai Constitution on the right of people to participate in natural resources and environment management.

Currently, the community has 58 household farming an area once abandoned by a palm oil company. These small-scale farmers have turned the land into a fertile plantation sufficient to support their families.

Representatives of the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT) submit a letter to the NHRC in Bangkok on 25 April 2017