Leoi villagers wear masks of ‘Pai Dao Din’, call for end of gold minings

Villagers in Loei have vowed to fight against gold mining and urged the junta not to prolong its power after the election. The villagers also showed solidarity with the lèse majesté convict Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa by wearing masks of his face.
 
On 7 January 2018, villagers from Wang Saphung District, Loei Province, read a statement about the struggle to protect their environment and community from gold mining. 
 
The villagers announced their four main goals for the year 2018: (1) to permanently close down local mines; (2) to revoke unfair mining licences; (3) to coordinate with environmentalists across the country in proposing a people’s environment bill as an alternative to the junta’s version; and (4) to stage a “Walk for Friendship” from Bangkok to Khon Kaen as a protest against social injustice nationwide.
 
The statement also urges the junta to cease its efforts to retain power after the election scheduled for November 2018.
 
“This year is an important historical turning point because while the junta tells the international community that it will hold an election this year, we are beginning to see the omens of evil. So we would like to send good wishes to the government that it should let go of its power from the coup and should not plan to prolong its power by setting up a military party or a nominee party,” read the statement. 
 
 
Wang Saphung villagers wear Pai Dao Din masks
 
While reading the statement, the villagers also showed solidarity with Jatupat, the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King, by wearing masks of his face.
 
Jatupat was convicted of lèse majesté for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. 
 
Before being imprisoned, Jatupat was a student activist from the Dao Din group which helps villagers in the Northeast to protect their communities. In 2013, Jatupat and Dao Din activists obstructed the police when they tried to crack down on anti-mine villagers in Wang Saphung.
 
 
Dao Din activists obstructing a police crackdown against villagers in 2013 (Photo from Voice TV)