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Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-018-2014

28May 2014

 

 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that threats against human rights defenders in the Khon Rak Ban Koen Group working to protect their communities from the negative effects of mining in Loei Province in Thailand are again at imminent risk of violence, under the cover of the military takeover of the country’s government and administration.

 

CASE NARRATIVE:

As we described in our original appeal (AHRC-UAC-073-2014), at 10pm on the evening of 15 May 2014, a group of approximately 100 unidentified armed men wearing black entered the area of Nanongbong in Loei Province. The armed men attacked the villagers and took 30 villagers as hostages, including two of the key leaders of a struggle against a mining operation. The hostages were placed face down on the ground and their hands and feet were bound. The barrier that the villagers had constructed to block access to the mine was destroyed and trucks were seen transporting materials from the mine. The villagers were released at 4am, and report being assaulted and threatened with guns as well as their hands and feet being bound. When other villagers called the police, only two police were sent to aid them, and they turned back once they saw the large number of armed men. To date, the identity of the armed men who entered the village is not known, but there has been no attempt by the authorities to hold them to account.

The AHRC and Protection International have now learned from a reliable source that the mining company involved has rented 55 trucks to prepare to transport the ore from a mine owned by Tungkum Limited on 29 May 2014. Two weeks ago, the village around the mine was attacked and human rights defenders and villagers beaten and detained by armed, marked men while ore was carried out from the mine. The AHRC has also learned from a reliable source that on 28 May 2014, a lawyer working with the community was followed while he was driving to court to submit a petition for a temporary protection order to prevent the company from carrying out any activities, including the transport of copper ore from the mine. This is clear intimidation.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The AHRC is very concerned that violence will again be carried out against the villagers on 29 May 2014. The risk of violence against human rights defenders in Loei is heightened given the broad-based repression and criminalization of protest caused by the declaration of martial law on 20 May 2014, and the coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The AHRC calls on all those concerned with human rights in Thailand to call for assurances from the NCPO and other relevant authorities to ensure that the villagers’ safety and right to life and livelihood are protected.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities below, asking them to take action to protect the rights of the human rights defenders and other villagers in Loei.

Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission has written letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Situation of Human Rights Defenders and the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment seeking their urgent intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

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SAMPLE LETTER
:

Dear ___________,

 

THAILAND: Human rights defenders fighting corporate mining in Loei province at risk of violence


Victims: Villagers from six villages including Nanongbong, who have protested against the mining industry and the expansion of the Phuthapfa gold mine in the Loei province in North Eastern Thailand

Alleged perpetrators: 
1. Tungkam Limited’s (TKL)
2. Royal Thai Army

Date of incident: Since February 2009 to 16 May 2014; Risk of violence on 29 May 2014
Place of incident: Loei province in North Eastern Thailand

I am deeply disturbed to have learned that threats against human rights defenders working to protect their communities from the negative effects of mining in Loei province are increasing and reaching a dangerous threshold. Tungkum Limited (TKL), a subsidiary gold exploration and mining company of Tongkah Harbour Public Company Limited, has taken legal action against the Khon Rak Ban Koed Group, a group of villagers from six villages including Nanongbong, who have protested against the mining industry and the expansion of the Phuthapfa gold mine in the Loei province in North eastern Thailand. The members of the Khon Rak Ban Koed Group have battled to protect the environment and natural resources of their village and to uphold their community’s agricultural practices.

The community was attacked on the evening of 15 May 2014 and villagers and human rights defenders were detained and bound by marked, armed men while copper ore was transported out of the mine. I have learned from a reliablesource that the mining company has rented 55 trucks to prepare to once again transport the ore from the mine on 29 May 2014. I am concerned that violence will be carried out against the villagers. I am further concerned that the broad-based repression and criminalization of protest caused by the declaration of martial law on 20 May 2014, and the coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) increases the likelihood of violence, and makes the possibility of redress more difficult.

The AHRC calls on all those concerned with human rights in Thailand to call for assurances from the NCPO and other relevant authorities to ensure that the villagers’ safety and right to life and livelihood are protected.

I would like to urge:

1. The Chair of the National Council for Peace and Order and Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army investigate and discipline the group of soldiers involved in the threats, intimidation and harassment that have been made on villagers and their leaders.

2. The Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police to investigate the performance of local authorities for failing to address bomb threats against the villagers and to protect the community on the evening of 15 May 2014, and to protect the community from possible violence on 29 May 2014. It is paramount that the police actively protect the villagers and HRDs involved in the case.

3. The Department of Special Investigation, Ministry of Justice to investigate the purchase and sale of minerals by TKL. The Department is urged to implement security and protective measures to ensure the safety of members and leaders of groups who protest against mining companies.

4. The Subcommittee on Civil and Political Rights at the National Human Rights Commission to immediately investigate violations of the rights, including the human rights, of the community and the threats, intimidation and harassment that have been made on the villagers and their leaders. The NHRC should also coordinate with relevant local authorities, including the governor of Loei, to ensure the safety of all HRDs involved in this case.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. General Prayuth Chan-ocha
Head of the National Council for Peace and Order
Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief
Rachadamnoen Nok Road
BangKhun Phrom
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND

2. Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara
Chairperson, Subcommittee on Civil and Political Rights
Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission
The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary 5th December, B.E.2550 (2007), Building B 120 Moo 3
Chaengwattana Road
Thoongsonghong, Laksi Bangkok 10210
THAILAND
E-mail: niran@nhrc.or.th

3. Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Lukmuang Building,
Nahuppei Road
Prabraromrachawang,
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND, Fax:
Email: oag@ago.go.th

4. Commissioner General
Royal Thai Police
Building 1, 7th Floor
RamaI
Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Email: feedback@police.go.th

5. Mr. Jesús Miguel Sanz
Ambassador
Delegation of the European Union to Thailand
Kian Gwan House II
19th Floor
140/1 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Email: delegation-thailand@eeas.europa.eu

6. MS. Sandra DE WAELE
Head of Political, Press and Information
Delegation of the European Union to Thailand
Kian Gwan House II
19th Floor
140/1 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
E-mail: Sandra.DE-WAELE@eeas.europa.eu

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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