Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) asking Burirum Governor to help poor villagers being forcibly evicted from their land in the National Forest Reserve by the policy of the NCPO

Cross Cultural Foundation
For immediate release on 25 July 2015
Press Release
Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) asking Burirum Governor to help poor villagers being forcibly evicted from their land in the National Forest Reserve by the policy of the NCPO

On 24 July 2015, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has submitted a letter to the Burirum Governor asking for help for poor villagers who have forcibly evicted from their land in the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve, Nondindaeng District, Burirum in July 2014 according to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Orders no. 64/2014 and 66/2014 regarding the suppression and prevention of encroachment and exploitation of forest resources as per the NCPO’s Master Plan on Sustainable Forest Resource Management. The policy has resulted in the destruction of crops and forced evictions causing the villagers to have to move out from their land in the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve where they have been inhibiting and living off and have to suffer a great deal. At least 46 families of the villagers have become landless and homeless and at present, they have been left without help from any state agencies. 12 families are making out their living from running stalls to sell things and staying in the shelters temporary. Yet they are facing eviction again by the police at the instruction of the Burirum Highway Authority. They are given fifteen days to move out starting from 21 July 2015 the day the instruction has been issued.

On 21 July 2015, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has received a complaint from the evicted villagers that they had received a letter from the Burirum Highway Authority dated 21 July 2015 asking them to remove their selling stalls from highway area on the Highway no. 348 Chong Tako – Noi Sakae under the Burirum Highway Authority invoking the 1992 Highway Act coupled with the 1996 Highway Act (no. 2) and its Article 38. If the villagers defies the order and continue to live there even after 15 days of receiving the order from the Burirum Highway Authority, the Authority shall proceed with legal action against them. From accounts given by the villagers, police officers have reigned in to put pressure on them to move out before 27 July 2015, the procedure of which is not consistent with the instruction appearing in the letter from the Burirum Highway Authority.

Under the rule of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the policy regarding the suppression and prevention of encroachment and exploitation of forest resources, the NCPO’s Master Plan on Sustainable Forest Resource Management has been approved invoking the NCPO Orders no. 64/ 2014 and 66/2014 to suppress any encroachers of protected area. As a result of the policy, destruction of crops and forced evictions have occurred making the villagers to have to leave the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve where they have been living and farming for decades. The land has been in dispute for many years.

In addition, the NCPO has provided neither recourses nor remedies for the affected villagers and as a result the villagers who have been affected by its Orders have become homeless and landless. In the past one year, they have to fight off nightmares and tragedies while the state has failed to provide for them and no agencies have been tasked to help amend the damage leaving the villagers to have to fight address their needs by themselves. They now have no home to live and no land to till and have to endure life without dignity and humanity.

For more information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, phone 02-6934939

Timeline of the situation

In July 2014, government officers have pushed out around 700-800 villagers from the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve according to the instructions of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). After they have been removed from the forest reserve, they split into two groups. 19 families have gone to live in rubber plantations at the entrance of Ban Kaning, though some of them had to take shelter in Nimit Prathanporn Monastery, Lamnangrong District. Later, the families that lived in the Lamnangrong Monastery had to face opposition from local villagers. According to the poor villagers, the local villagers have come in the temple and put pressure on the temple to remove the villagers. As a result, they had to move and take shelter at the office of the Lamnangrong Women’s Traditional Weavers Group. With no income, they had started to put up stalls by the Nondindaeng – Taphraya Highway to sell things.

On 22 June 2015, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has distributed Concluding Observations and recommendations to the Thai government after considering the initial and second periodic reports of Thailand on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights with more than 20 members of the Thai delegation which attended the forum during 4-5 June. During the discussion, one of the 18 committee members has inquired about forced evictions in Nondindaeng, Burirum. The Committee has later distributed the official Concluding Observations on \22 June 2015 and submitted them to the Thai government via its Mission in Geneva, Switzerland and has published it in its website as the document no. United Nations E/C.12/THA/CO/1-2 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Part of it states that;

“The Committee is concerned about issues regarding land and natural resources after receiving the information that the implementation of its forest conservation policy, in particular NCPO Orders No. 64/2014 and 66/2014 of 2014, has resulted in the destruction of crops and forced evictions… The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary steps, including revising its legal and policy framework, to…ensure that forced evictions are only used as a measure of last resort and persons forcibly evicted are provided with adequate compensation and/or relocation, bearing in mind the Committee’s general comments no. 4 (1991) on the right to adequate housing and no. 7 (1997) on forced evictions.”

On 24 June 2015, the NHRC Subcommittee on Human Rights concerning Land and Forest, leading by Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara, has receive a complaint regarding this case and has submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment asking for help for the villagers who have been forcibly evicted from their land in the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve and have received no remedies. But it has turned out that the Burirum Provincial Authority has convened a meeting on the issue and passed a resolution to ask the Burirum Highway Authority to take legal action to remove the villagers from selling their things by highway area.

For more information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, phone 02-6934939

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