A group of protesters here in Bangkok has a very different grievance from those of the yellow and red shirt protests.
Poon Pongsuwan, a protesting farmer, shows postcards explaining the plight of farmers that he plans to pass on to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti. THITI WANNAMONTHA
Forest farmers bring their 30-year battle against eviction to town
A group of Chaiyaphum villagers is urging a speedy resolution to their 30-year conflict with the state over their right to live on what the state claims is public land.
The villagers, who have entered the third week of a protest in Bangkok, say the government's moves to issue community land title deeds to landless farmers under its land reform policy is a start, but does not go far enough.
They will deliver a letter to the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti today to urge solutions to their row with the Forestry Industry Organisation.
Their plight started 30 years ago, when the FIO took over the villagers' farmland in tambon Thung Phra in Chaiyaphum's Khon San district and turned it into a eucalyptus plantation.
Even though many villagers had legal land ownership papers, they were still arrested and sent to jail when they tried to farm their blocks.
And those who had agreed to join the FIO's so-called forest village programme eventually became landless because they did not receive any farmland in compensation as promised.
After years of seeking justice, the National Human Rights Commission ruled in 2007 that the FIO plantation wrongfully took over the farmers' land, which must be returned to the owners.
But the FIO has refused to abide by the judgement.
The Chaiyaphum villagers' predicament epitomises the plight of millions of rural people across the country whose farmland overlaps the state's demarcation of national forests.
Their struggle is also representative of the suffering the poor must endure when forestry authorities want to increase forest cover and make quick money at the same time by taking over the poor's farmland, renting it out cheaply to tree farm investors.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva referred to the dispute last week when he handed out community land title deeds – the first such issued under the government's land reform policy – in Nakhon Pathom.
"The prime minister told us he has learned about our grievances and has discussed the matter with Mr Suwit," said Poon Pongsuwan, leader of Boh Keow community from Chaiyaphum's Khon San district. "But for us, if he already knows about our problems, why doesn't he do something right away?"
Mr Poon moved from Nong Khai to tend land near Huay Pong forest in tambon Thung Phra of Khon San district in 1969, but he was asked by the FIO to move out in 1986.
He has fought against eviction ever since.
Nid Torthun, 62, chairman of the Khon San community working on fixing land disputes, said officials might think villagers encroached on the land, but big trees in the area were chopped down before they occupied it.
Some villagers have tax payment receipts over income they earned from farming the land. "We plant all kinds of things that make us a living, such as rice, maize, beans and chillies.
"But the ministry takes more and more land as wildlife conservation and protected areas," Mr Nid said.
Despite the National Human Rights Commission's 2007 finding that the FIO had violated villagers' rights, the FIO has taken legal action to evict villagers from the land where the state enterprise had planted eucalyptus, rubber and teak.
The villagers last Wednesday lost an appeal in a civil case filed by the FIO, in which their request that eviction efforts be put on hold was dismissed.
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protest – to make a strong complaint or disagreement ประท้วง
natural resources – things such as coal, trees, wildlife and oil that exist in nature and can be used by people ทรัพยากรธรรมชาติ
environment – the place in which people live and work, including all the physical conditions that affect them สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม
battle – a fight; serious disagreement, strong competition, etc. การต่อสู้
eviction – the process of forcing someone to leave a building or place where they have been living or working การขับไล่ออกจากพื้นที่ การไล่ที่
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
resolution – solving a problem, or to finding a satisfactory way of dealing with it การแก้ไขปัญหา
conflict – an angry disagreement between people or groups ความขัดแย้ง
state – government รัฐบาล
claim – to say that you have the right to have or own something, especially land or property อ้างสิทธิ
issue – to give or provide something official แจกจ่าย
community – the people living in one particular area ชุมชน
title deed – a land ownership paper โฉนด
reform – a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป
policy – a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย
solution – a way of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation วิธีแก้ปัญหา
row – a serious disagreement about an issue between people, organisations or countries การทะเลาะวิวาท
eucalyptus – a tall straight tree with leaves that produce an oil with a strong smell, that is used in medicine. There are several types of eucalyptus and they grow especially in Australasia ต้นยูคาลิปตัส
plantation – a large farm where crops such as tea, coffee, cotton, sugar or, in this case, trees, are grown ไร่ นาขนาดใหญ่
legal – relating to the law or lawyers เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
arrested – caught by the police and taken to a police station because you are believed to have committed a crime ถูกจับกุม
block – an area of land
eventually – at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
compensation – money or property that someone receives because something bad has happened to them เงินชดเชย
justice – fairness in the way people are dealt with ความเป็นธรรม, ความถูกต้อง, ความยุติธรรม
human rights – the basic rights which it is generally considered all people should have, such as justice and the freedom to say what you think สิทธิมนุษยชน
commission – a group of people who have been formally chosen to discover information about a problem or examine the reasons why the problem exists คณะกรรมการ, คณะกรรมาธิการ
rule – (of a court or other group with similar authority) to make and announce a decision ตัดสิน, พิพากษา, ชี้ขาด
refuse – to say you will not do something that someone has asked you to do ปฏิเสธ
abide by – to follow a rule, law or instruction ทำตามกฎหมาย
judgment – an opinion or decision that you have after thinking (carefully) about something การตัดสินใจ, การพิจารณา
predicament – a difficult or unpleasant situation, especially one where it is difficult to know what to do สภาพกลืนไม่เข้าคายไม่ออก
epitomise – to be a perfect example of something เป็นตัวอย่างที่ชัดเจน
rural – connected with the countryside outside big towns and cities ในชนบท, บ้านนอก
overlapping – (of areas of land) to cover parts of each other คาบเกี่ยวกัน
demarcation – the process of deciding the limits of something, especially the borders of an area การปักเขต, การกำหนดเขต
struggle – a very difficult task that you can do only by making a great effort ความพยายาม
representative – typical of people or things in a group – เป็นตัวอย่าง, เป็นแบบอย่าง
suffering – physical or mental pain or problems ความทุกข์ทรมาน
endure – to suffer something difficult or unpleasant in a patient way over a long period of time อดทนเพื่อให้ผ่านเวลาหรือเหตุการณ์ที่เลวร้าย
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
rent out – to allow someone to use something for a period of time in return for money ให้เช่า
investor – a person or organization that invests money, i.e., uses money with the aim of making a profit from it, for example by buying property or buying shares in a company นักลงทุน
refer – to mention someone or something อ้างถึง, อ้างอิง
dispute – a serious disagreement การโต้เถียง, ความขัดแย้ง
grievances – complaints about being treated in an unfair way ความคับข้องใจ
tend – to take care of something ดูแล
encroach – to gradually cover more and more of an area of land บุกรุก, ล่วงล้ำ
occupy – to work or live on a piece of land อาศัยอยู่ใน, ครอบครอง
receipt – a piece of paper which proves that money, goods or information have been received ใบเสร็จ, ใบรับ
maize – corn; a tall plant grown for its large yellow grains that are used for making flour or eaten as a vegetable; the grains of this plant ข้าวโพด
wildlife – animals, birds, insects, etc. that are wild and live in a natural environment สัตว์ป่า
conservation – the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity การอนุรักษ์ธรรมชาติ, การป้องกันความสูญเสีย, การสงวนไว้
violate – to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement ฝ่าฝืนกฎหมาย
state enterprise – a company or business owned and managed by the government รัฐวิสาหกิจ
appeal – a request that a court change a decision of a lower court ยื่นอุทธรณ์
civil – of a case filed a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาลแพ่ง
put on hold – to delay; to suspend; to stop for a period of time ยกเลิกชั่วคราว, ระงับชั่วคราว
dismiss a case – (of a court of law) to decide that the charges made against a person or organisation are not correct or proper procedures have not been followed and the case should not be taken to court ยกฟ้อง
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