NGOs call upon UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU for more active role
4 September 2014. Bangkok, Thailand- 10 Human rights organisations have signed a joint statement calling for action of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Union and the National Human Rights Organisation. They call upon the different organisations to adopt a more active role in the community-based dispute between the Khon Rak Ban Kerd (KRBK) community and the gold-mining company Tung Kha Limited Company (TKL). The KRBK group consists of villagers from 6 villages affected by the gold mining operations. The KRBK group strives to protect the environment and to defend natural resources against exploitation by unethical investors who have no respect for the wellbeing of the local people and community, environment, public health and human rights.
Please read their joint statement and call to action below.
Joint Statement – 4 September 2014: Statement on the Khon Rak Ban Kerd community organisation call for community-based dispute resolution
We, the undersigned organization, are concerned that authorities are still not having constructive dialogue with the community as the Army has called for a meeting of all stakeholders in the dispute surrounding the Tungkhum Company Limited gold mine at 10:00 am, 4th September 2014. The Army invited the Khon Rak Ban Kerd (KRBK) community organization leaders and officials from the six Wang Saphung villages affected by the gold mining activities to attend the meeting. The Army has stated that this meeting will agree on a Memorandum of Understanding outlining concrete actions that will resolve the dispute. The KRBK released a video statement on 3rd September and delivered an official letter to the Governor on 4th September stating that it will not participate in the meeting and outlining why it doesn’t approve of this process (See Annex 1).
The community has previously and continues to clearly communicate its demands and its needs to authorities and the public. On the other hand, local elected officials, including village headmen and district headmen, are now working in a military regime operating under martial law. Thus the Wang Saphung communities observe that they have no space or voice in the government and civil service, which is why the villagers are demanding – through their letter and video statement – for greater community participation and elected community representatives to deal with relevant authorities to resolve the dispute surrounding the gold mine.
We see this meeting as an attempt by the Army to achieve a speedy resolution to the dispute surrounding the mine, which is worrying as such a pressing attitude doesn’t give the community time to participate in the drawing up and agree to the path for solving the conflict. We see the authorities’ unhealthy response to the conflict as an inability to recognize and secure the holistic needs of the community.
We call on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to:
• Strengthen their work in preventing further human rights violations, including intimidation, in the six Wang Saphung villages affected by gold mining activities;
• Work together with relevant agencies and the Government towards creating a safe and threat-free situation for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Thailand.
We call on the European Union (EU) to:
• Adopt an active role to monitor the violations against community-based HRDs in the Wang Saphung community;
• Establish a plan to visit the Wang Saphung community-based HRDs (and relevant local authorities), as the EU has already conducted a meaningful dialogue with the communities;
• Expand the emergency assistance the EU can provide for community-based HRDs in Thailand.
We call on the National Human Rights Commission to:
• Immediately exercise its mandate to conduct inquiries with relevant authorities regarding the investigation into the 15th May attack on the community.
1. Community Resource Centre
2. E-san Human Rights and Peace Information Centre
3. NGOs Coordinating Committee, Northeastern Region
4. Network for Isaan Natural Resources and Environment
5. Center for Community Information for Social Justice
6. The Udonthani Conservation Group
7. People’s Network on Community’s Mineral Resources
8. Campaign for Public Policy on Mineral Resources
9. Cultural Ecology Study Group
10. Protection International
For more information, please contact:
Protection International thailand(@)protectioninternational.org