The Network of People Who Own Mineral Resources issued a statement on Monday (30 March), raising concerns about the restriction to people's rights and freedom under the Emergency Decree, which limits freedom of assembly, reduce the people's participation, and close off complaint mechanism, resulting in the inability to exercise their rights according to the constitution and related bills to oppose the mineral projects.
A Covid-19 checkpoint on Mittraphap road in Nong Khai province on 27 March 2020. (Source: National News Bureau of Thailand)
Since the pandemic of COVID19 are spreading out in Thailand in the recent months, Thai people have been on high alert while the number of those infected continues to increase, as well as the death toll and people under monitoring. The consequence of this is the loss of job, loss of income, shortage of medical equipment. Household items become more expensive and increasingly scarce to buy. Such situation has created disruptions in economic system, society, health care and the environment, leading to lack of balance and adequacy to live normal lives.
Even though the COVID19 pandemic does not seem as grave as war or terrorism, but it has shown that this government lacks of capacity to solve the issues. Current measures in solving the problems are diminishing human dignity, restricting freedom of expression in public media channels, lack of health care and essential infrastructure, all deriving from mismanagement, and lack of early preventive measures, resulting in the spread of this pandemic in every direction.
On 25 March 2020, the government the declared Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005) from 26 March 2020-30 April 2020 aimed to halt the spread of COVID19 with following details:
- Prohibiting anyone to leave their residence in specific time;
- Prohibiting public gathering and social gathering;
- Prohibiting presenting news or publishing information that are inaccurate;
- Prohibiting the use of public routes, vehicles, or specify conditions for the use of routes;
- Prohibiting the use of buildings or venues;
- Allowing the evacuation of people from the specific area for safety;
The Network of People Who Own Mineral Resources, who has been monitoring development projects relating to mineral resources by the state and business sector would like to note the criticism regarding the Emergency Decree. It limits the rights and freedom of assembly, reduce the people’s participation, close off complaints mechanism, resulting in the inability to exercise their rights according to the constitution and related bills to oppose the mineral projects.
Currently, the approval and permission process for many of the mineral projects are still going ahead with the strong support from the state and private sectors. At the same time, the people and communities who have stakes according to the Mineral Act B.E. 2560 were frozen by the Emergency Decree, resulting in deprivation of the voices, rights and freedom of the people who own the mineral resources, while the processes by the private sectors are not restricted. Therefore, the Network of the People Who Own Mineral Resources has demands as follows:
1. To equally and fairly enforce the Emergency Decree, the authorities must halt any approval processes that would lead to granting permission to all development projects relating to mineral resources, until the people are free to exercise their rights and freedom.
2. In the case of the area where there have been complaints regarding the impacts of the projects relating to mineral resources, there must be orders to halt any procedures to not t rubbed salt into the wound of the people who have to battle with Covid-19 which has worsened the situation impacted by the mining projects.
From the above demands, the Network of People Who Own Mineral Resources would like to request that the relevant authorities to enforce the Emergency Decree only where necessary. If the development projects are allowed to proceed at the time where people do not have rights and freedom nor participation, it would result in damaging health and environmental impacts to the communities.
This contradicts the intention of the Mineral Bill B.E. 2560 and the Constitution.
We would like to request all the agencies to halt any processes relating to mineral resources projects in all parts of Thailand.