The Krabi Provincial Court in Thailand ruled on 15 July 2016 that the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) did not have the authority to evict 53 villagers of the Klongsai Pattana community. This ruling confirmed that the villagers were not dependents of the palm oil company. In fact successive governments established the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand’s (SPFT) right to community land titles, which should override the land grab by the palm-oil company that is illegally occupying the land.
Earlier in the day, prior to the court ruling, the Legal Action for Women, Global Women Strike, other organizations and individuals organized a protest and submitted a letter to the Thai embassy in London regarding the continued threat of eviction to the Khlong Sai Pattana villagers.
The letter written to the Thai embassy shares the group’s deep concerns for the rights of the SPFT. If evicted from the land that they have farmed collectively for the past 8 years, the villagers will lose their homes and livelihoods. Further, over past years a number of the members of the SPFT have been killed in the struggle for land titles.
In the letter (download the letter here) the group urges the Thai court and other authorities to:
– Uphold the right of the KhlongSai Pattana community’s struggles to communal land management, livelihoods, and safety
-Reject any use of Section 44 to evict the farmers
– Condemn the killings and attempted killing of its members, and ensure these are fully investigated, the perpetrators arrested and tried, and the victims’ loved ones and communities are kept fully informed
– Recognize women’s leading contributions as farmers, mothers, defenders of their communities and pursuers of justice for loved ones who have been detained, disappeared or murdered
– In line with commitments and recommendations made in Geneva, ensure no reprisals against human rights defenders who are members of or advocates for SPFT and its communities, their families and colleagues.
The threat of eviction still looms as villagers are concerned ALRO could adopt special power under Section 44 of the interim charter and seize back the land. Continued international attention is necessary to ensure the Klongsai Pattana community are not threatened with eviction and to push appropriate authorities to protect land and human rights defenders.
View photographs from the ‘For Those Who Died Trying‘ exhibition that opened at the UPR in Geneva in May 2016. The exhibition presents photographs of 37 murdered/abducted human rights defenders in Thailand, 4 of which are members of the SPFT, in attempt to shed light on the dangerous situation in the country.