Phetchaburi Court releases 22 Bang Kloi villagers

22 members of the Bang Kloi indigenous Karen community who were detained on Friday (5 March) were granted temporarily release by the Phetchaburi Provincial Court on Sunday (7 March).

Members of the Save Bang Kloi Coalition holding a banner saying "#SAVEBangKloi. Human = human" during the "Walk Through the Sky" protest march on Sunday (7 March). 

The Human Rights Lawyer Association (HRLA) planned to request bail for the 22 community members today (8 March). However, they were suddenly granted temporary release on Sunday (7 March). The court did not require any security, but set the condition that they do not return to the area in which they were arrested or enter other national park areas without permission.

HRLA lawyer Waraporn Utairungsee told Transborder News that she was unsure who requested bail for the group. However, some of the community members told her that the officers brought them documents to sign, but they do not know what the documents are for.  

No-ae Meemi, son of the community’s late spiritual leader Ko-i Meemi, also told Transborder News after he was released from prison that the land at Chai Phaen Din is their ancestral land, and that he would like the authorities to help them return to live on that land. He also said that he is not currently sure how he would live from now on.

87 community members, who travelled back to the location of their former village in the Kaeng Krachan forest, were forcibly taken out of the forest on Friday (5 March) and charged with encroaching on national park land. Of this number, 36 are minors against whom the authorities did not press charges. 29 others were arrested and received a fine, while 22 were detained at Khao Kling Prison.

Meanwhile, the Save Bangkloi Coalition and the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) have been gathering at the Chamai Maruchet Bridge in front of Government House since Sunday (7 March) to call for justice for the Bang Kloi community and said they will stay indefinitely, until there is a concrete solution to the human rights violations against the community.

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