Additional information as of 17 Aug 2015
17 Aug – Highway authority of Nondindaeng issued another warning dated 17 Aug providing 15 days extension to remove all shelters along the highway.
15 Aug – Highway authority of Nondindaeng informed the 12 families that the road authority will come to remove all shelters along the highway.
10 Aug – We learnt that the district office organized a regular meeting and the issue of Nondindaeng was discussed however, the resolution referred to that these groups of villagers have their own house/resident that they shall be moved too and many of them have their house registration outside Nondindaeng district and /or outside Burium Province. It was not Nondindaeng and Burirum authority to provide them an assistance for temporary shelters.
05 Aug – Deadline in the letter issued on 21 July by the highway authority warning the 12 families to remove the shelters
31 July-1 Aug – CrCF visited the 12 families (along the Nondidaeng public road) and also 23 families residing in the rubber plantation. During the visit, CrCF discussed with Nondindaeng District Governor in person and also discussed with the highway authority responsible person by phone requesting for postponing the eviction. CrCF discussed with the permanent secretary of Burium Provincial Governor by phone requesting for postponing the eviction.
24 July: CrCF issued a letter to postpone the legal action and finding a long term solution for those evicted from Dongyai National park since July 2014 respecting ESCR.
21 July: the highway authority of Burirum issued a warning letter to evict the 12 families otherwise the legal action will be enforced.
24 June: National human rights commission issued a letter to Ministry of Natural resource.
June: We learnt that at the Provincial regular meeting, the resolution referred to that these groups of villagers have their own house/resident that they shall be moved too and many of them have their house registration outside Nondindaeng district and /or outside Burium Province. It was not Nondindaeng and Burirum authority to provide them an assistance for temporary shelters.
Background of the case
An unknown future of Dong Yai villagers in Non Din Daeng
By Information Center, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
During 31 July and 1 August 2015, the Director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, has made a trip to Non Din Daeng District, Burirum province, to listen to complaints and investigate the case since on 21 July 2015, CrCF had received a complaint from villagers being forcibly evicted from their land inside the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve. The aggrieved villagers stated that they have just received a letter from the Burirum Highway Authority dated 21 July 2015 asking them to remove their selling stalls from highway area along 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.
Mrs. Wilaiphan Chomban, representative of the villagers facing eviction order from the Highway Authority said that right now the villagers have to suffer a lot and have nowhere to turn to for help. They have no idea how to carry on. Previously, they had lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) together with other fellow villagers from Dong Yai National Forest. That they had been evicted from Dong Yai forests had already made it impossible for them to eke out their living by collecting food and fish from the river, now they are facing a marching order and they have no idea where they can go. They had to set up selling stalls by highway simply because they had nowhere else to make their ends meet.
According to Mrs. Wilaiphan, over 30 villagers evicted from Dong Yai forest have moved over to stay together in this area including a dozen of children who dare not go to school fearing that if they had gone to school, when they came back they would never get to see their families again as they might have been evicted somewhere else.
CrCF’s Director has asked to meet officers from a local administrative agency to inform them about complaints from the villagers and asked for help based on humanitarian basis.
Ms. Pornpen had the chance to meet with the District Chief Officer of Non Din Daeng, Mr. Chawaphon Prachitwat, who listened to the problems and said that even though he had just been appointed as the District Chief Officer here for a couple months, but he had heard about these problems before. He needed more time to study them.
The CrCF’s Director has also inquired the Chief Officer of the Highway Authority who had issued an order to remove the villagers explaining to him problems and concerns of the villagers that in the past 15 days after receiving the order on 21 July 2015 and pending the deadline on 5 August, the villagers who found no way out were suffering terribly and the marching order came very abruptly to them.
Eventually, the Chief Officer of the Highway Authority agreed to extend the grace period of time from 5 to 15 August. In addition, on 27 July 2015, the Burirum Agricultural Land Reform Office had sent letters to farmers who planted rubber trees in agricultural reform land informing them that some makeshifts had been constructed in their land and such construction did not meet the objectives of agricultural reform land. They were requested to meet with the officers on 7 August 2015.
Since being forcibly evicted in July 2015, the villagers, more 50 of them from 28 families, had been seeking shelter in the rubber plantation in Ban Sub Kaning with permission given by the plantation owners who sympathized with the landless and homeless villagers.
The CrCF shall seek to have further meeting with the Chief Officer of the Highway Authority to explore better solutions to the problem.
As to the timeline of the case, on 24 July 2015, CrCF has submitted a letter asking the Governor of Burirum to help address the needs of destitute villagers who had been evicted from their land in Dong Yai National Forest Reserve, Non Din Daeng District, Burirum in July 2014 as a result of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Orders no. 64/2014 and 66/2014 regarding the policy to suppress and combat the destruction of forest and natural resources as per the Master Plan for Sustainable Forest Resource Management of the Order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Instead, it had led to the destruction of crops and forced eviction of villagers from the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve where the villagers used to live their life and grow their food.
As a result of the policy, at least 46 families had been made landless and left with no remedies and help from any state agencies. Twelve families had sought to set up stalls to sell food by the highway and now they have been pressured by the police and received an order from the Burirum Highway Authority to move out within fifteen days, though the letter was issued just on 21 July 2015.
According to information as of July 2014, the authorities had removed 700-800 villagers from the Dong Yai National Forest Reserve according to the order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). After their eviction, the villagers had split into two groups. One group had sought to live in a rubber plantation at the entrance of Ban Sub Kaning, 19 families of them (some stayed Nimit Prathanporn Monastery Hua Khuen) and the rest at a monastery in Lamnangrong District, 19 families of them. Later, the group that stayed in Wat Lamnangrong had been pressured by local community to move out. According to the affected villagers, security officers had put pressure on the monastery to remove them. 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.
Nevertheless, 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 Subcommittee on Human Rights concerning Land and Forest 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.
In addition, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has so far provided with no measures as redress to the problems inflicted on the villagers. As a result, the villagers affected by the NCPO Order have found themselves landless and have to wander around for over one year until now.
Contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet Tel. 02-6934939