Soldiers detain rubber farmers for planning rally in Bangkok

A group of southern farmer leaders has been detained in military camps after vowing to protest falling rubber prices.
 
On 11 November 2017, soldiers and administration officials arrested four rubber farmers in Phatthalung and Trang. The four are leaders of a group of southern rubber farmers who planned to stage a rally in Bangkok. 
 
The four are Phairat Cheoichum, Samrong Petthong, Tanomkiat Yingchuan and Prathop Suksanan. They were released on 12 November after agreeing not to join the protest. 
 
Despite intimidation from authorities in Trang and Phatthalung, rubber farmers from other provinces staged a rally on 13 November in front of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in Bangkok. The protesters placed three funeral wreaths at the Ministry as a symbol of its failure to manage rubber prices. 
 
Over 100 soldiers and police officers were summoned to prevent the protesters from entering the building.
 
The protesters handed a petition to Agriculture Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya, calling for amendments to the Rubber Authority of Thailand Act. 
 
Before being arrested, Tanomkiat told the media that rubber farmers are upset that during Chatchai’s term as Agriculture Minister, the Thai Rubber Authority formed the Thai Rubber Joint Venture Co Ltd in collaboration with five big rubber firms to the detriment of small-scale farmers. 
 
“While the joint venture was supposed to help farmers in principle, it has in practice benefited investors,” stated Tanomkiat. 
 
 
 
Rubber farmers talk to security officers during the detention (Photo from Thairath)