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“We have the right to be here” – Klong Sai Community members

On 15th October 2015, in a letter sent to the Chairperson of the Southern Peasant Cooperative Co. Ltd (sister organisation to the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand, SPFT) , the Bangkok-based national office of the Legal Execution Department office responded to the SPFT on the matter concerning the legal execution order against the SPFT Klong Sai Pattana Community.

 

 

This exchange of letters concerns the legal execution of a court decision by the Krabi Provincial Court on 11th May 2015, orders the Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co. Ltd. and its dependents to vacate the land the company is illegally occupying, in Chaiburi district, Surat Thani Province. The plaintiff in the court case, the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO), has now ordered authorities to pursue legal execution order against the resident SPFT Khlong Sai Pattana Community as well.

 

In their 15th October 2015 letter, the Legal Execution Department Deputy-Chairperson acknowledges this letter to in response to a letter sent by the SPFT to the Legal Execution Department on 3rd June 2015. However, in their 15th October 2015 reply, the Legal Execution Department claims that the SPFT should have notified the Legal Execution Department within an eight day period after the Department posted a notification on 16th September 2015.  It is a serious threat against the Klong Sai Pattana Community that state authorities are not only illegitimately pursuing persecution and possible forced eviction of the Klong Sai Pattana Community, but also state authorities are failing to properly acknowledge, notify and communicated with the SPFT.

 

Klong Sai  community members with a banner that says "Justice Will Prevail"

Klong Sai community members with a banner that says “Justice Will Prevail”

 

Following on from this, state authorities now claim that the SPFT has not notified the Legal Execution Department in the correct time limit, and Legal Execution Department now presumes that Khlong Sai Pattana community are dependents of the very company which is illegally occupying ALRO land (note: ALRO land is to be redistributed to peasants in need of land, such as SPFT members).

 

 

Furthermore, in 24th September 2015 letter by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) Commissioner, Dr. Nirand Pitakwatchara, also Chairperson of the NHRCT Subcommittee on Community Rights, to relevant authorities (including the Secretary General of the ALRO), the Subcommittee states  the opinion that the execution of order by the ALRO to  forcibly evict the SPFT Klong Sai Pattana community is an unfair treatment and it breaches agreements previously reached between the state and local peasants. Furthermore, such an eviction could have lead to further spiraling violence in the area, which has already claimed the lives of four SPFT members and community-based land rights defenders.

 

In light of the above threatening actions by State authorities and NHRC Subcommittee’s recommendations to relevant authorities (see letter below) Protection International reiterates its heightened concerns regarding the security and safety of the SPFT Klong Sai Pattana community and calls on the international community to:

 

  1. Contact the Legal Execution Department office and Secretary-General of the Agricultural Land Reform Office, Mr. Werachai Narkwiboonwong[1], to raise concerns about ALRO’s decision to label the Klong Sai Pattana community ‘encroachers’, when the ALRO has worked with the SPFT for many years and, resulting from this cooperation, has recognised three SPFT communities (including Klong Sai Pattana) as pilot communities for the distribution of community land title deeds;

 

  1. Contact the Rights and Liberties Protection Department Director, MOJ and chairperson of the Working Group on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders at Risk (White List), Colonel Naras Savestanaa[2], to demand that this committee extends its protection mandate to provide immediate and sufficient protection to community-based Human Rights Defenders. This would include an intervention to require local authorities prevent any Human Rights violations in seeking “to ensure justice to all parties and to ensure efficient land management”, and a visit by the Working Group on the White List to Klong Sai Pattana community to assess how best to support and protect SPFT’s community-based HRDs who are at high risk of violence and forced eviction.

 

  1. Urge the Thai military government through Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives to stop the use of violence by state agencies against the landless poor, who have been accused of violating state law. Such examples of violence include forcible relocation, the destruction of life and property, and the use of the law to threaten and intimidate community-based HRDs.

 

 

For more info on the case, please read the following letter by letter by the NHRCT Commissioner

 

 

Subject: A request for cooperation to protect human rights of the Klong Sai Pattana Community

ATT: Secretary-General of the Agricultural Land Reform Office

With reference to the Subcommittee on Community Rights’s letter no. SM 003/1866 dated 7 September 2015

Dear Sir,

In pursuance to your sending a delegation to explain to the Subcommittee on Community Rights on 15 September 2015 at the meeting room of the Office of National Human Rights Commission as part of the review of the complaint concerning the solutions to issues stemming from the Agricultural Land Reform Office wanting to execute the legal order against the Southern Peasant Federation Cooperative and to forcibly evict them from the Klong Sai Pattana Community in Moo 2, Tambon Sai Thong, Chaiyaburi District, Surat Thani;

Based on our review of the complaint and the taking of evidence from various concerned agencies, the Subcommittee is of the opinion that the execution of order by the Agricultural Land Reform Office to force the relocation of the Southern Peasant Federation Cooperative Co. Ltd. from their land in Klong Sai Pattana Community is an unfair treatment. It breaches agreements previously reached between the state and local people and this could have led to spiraling violence in the area based on the following facts and reasons;

(1) Members of the Southern Peasant Federation Cooperative Co. Ltd. are people who have moved to reside in the agricultural reform landand have demanded the state and authorities to redistribute the land based on the collective ownership regime or community land title deed. Previously, they have been granted permission and leniency from the state to continue living and farming the land while solutions were being sought based on the land redistribution policy of the government. By the endorsement of the Coordinating Committee for the Provision of Community Land Title Deed, the Klong Sai Pattana Community are considered eligible and qualified for the implementation of the community land title deed system and an effort was being made to implement the community land title deed in the area. Thus, members of the Southern Peasant Federation Cooperative Co. Ltd. could be considered neither trespassers nor dependents of the Jew Kang Jui Co. Ltd. The fact has been ascertained by the verdict of the Krabi Provincial Court and the Appeals Court of Region 8 in the Black Case no. 167/2554 and Red Case no. 1900/2556 dated 2 May 2013. Therefore, that the Agricultural Land Reform Office was about to execute a legal order to force the villagers out of the area claiming they are dependents of the Jew Kang Jui Co. Ltd. is an allegation grossly deviated from the rule of law.

(2) The implementation of the Agricultural Land Reform Office is also inconsistent with the resolutionof the Committee to Solve Problems of the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) appointed by the Prime Minister to resolve issues of the people and mandated to propose solutions and measures to ensure solutions based on the proposals of the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) as well as to ensure prompt and effective implementation of concerned state and private agencies. Please note that on 23 January 2015, the Committee agreed with the framework of solution to address the issues which bear no impacts on the livelihood of the peopleand during the seeking of cooperation from various agencies, any impending implementations of state agencies shall be put on hold to prevent them from causing further conflicts or more suffering inflicted upon the normal and peaceful way of life. In addition, the villagers were allowed to utilize the public land as normal as long as any final review and decisions shall be taken by concerned agencies in charge of the area and as long as to ensure the proposed solutions are in compliance with the government’s policy declared during the presentation of the government’s policy to the National Legislative Assembly, particularly on land issue. In other word, it has been pledged that an effort shall be made to accelerate a solution to redistribute the land among the poor people based on the collective right to land management, not based on individual rights. Therefore, that the Agricultural Land Reform Office disallowed members of the Southern Peasant Federation Cooperative Co. Ltd. to continue living in the Klong Sai Pattana Community and persisted to execute the legal order and carry out forced eviction is a breach to the resolutions of the Committee to Solve Problems of the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) and is inconsistent to the government’s policy and agreements mutually reached by the state and the people to allow them to live temporarily in the area pending the solutions to their problems.

(3) The agricultural reform area covers about 1,900 rais in the province of Surat Thani and part of Krabi. Until now, problems have persisted relating the illegal occupation and buy and sell of the land by rich investors and the authorities have failed to address the issues or to bring to justice the perpetrators. Villagers who have decided to live here have been left to face direst persecution and harassment and four of them have been assassinated as a result. Therefore, the Agricultural Land Reform Office should promptly work toward redistributing the land for agricultural purpose among the peasants and their organizations to ensure that they have proper access to utilize the land according to the lad and to solve the problem of land grabbing in state property. According to the investigation of the Subcommittee, it was found that about 900 rais of land in Moo 2, Tambon Sai Thong, Chaiyaburi District, Surat Thani inhabited by members of the Klong Sai Pattana Community now is the area for which the community has applied for committee land title deed since 2010 and the application is pending consideration whether or not to allow the community to pursue the community land title deed system. Previously, the Agricultural Land Reform Office explained that the area had been a matter of legal dispute whereby the authority was seeking a judicial order to evict the oil palm operators who occupied the area illegally, and therefore, the land could not be developed for the community land title deed system as yet, pending the final verdict of the court. As since the Agricultural Land Reform Office has finally won the case and the villagers had not encroached into other area, but kept to the land originally proposed for the survey and issuance of community land title deed, their continuing to live in the area would not post any obstacle for the authorities to redistribute the land based on the community land title deed system. There is, therefore, no reason or necessity to force them to leave the area.

Moreover, the Agricultural Land Reform Office should promptly consider issuing community land title deeds as previously applied for as a solution to the problems. The Subcommittee views it an urgent matter for the protection of human rights and is now seeking your cooperation to allow members of the Southern Peasant Federation Cooperative Co. Ltd. to continue living in the area pending the effort of the concerned agencies to redistribute the land through agricultural institutes or collective use based on community land title deed, the resolution of which has been endorsed by the Coordinating Committee for the Provision of Community Land Title Deed. Please be acknowledged and act accordingly. Information of any result of the implementation should be furnished to the Subcommittee.

Thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Nirand Pitakwatchara

National Human Rights Commissioner Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Community Rights

 

 

To learn more about the Klong Sai-Pattana community, click here.

To learn more about the activities of PI’s Protection Desk in Thailand, click here.

 

 

[1] Mr.Werachai Narkwiboonwong

Secretary-General Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO)

Tel: +66 2282 5745 / +66 081 303 1712 / Fax: +66 2282 5745

Email: werachai_n@yahoo.com

[2] Col. Naras Savestanaa
Director General Rights and Liberties Protection Department
120 Moo 3 Rajaburi Direkriddhi Building
The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King´s 80th Birthday Anniversary 5th
Changwattana Road Tung Song Hong Laksi Bangkok 10210 THAILAND
Tel: +66 2 1412707 Fax: +66 2 1439660
Email: savestanan@yahoo.com