Industrial park rallies to press on

Industrial park rallies to press on

Songkhla locals won't alter demands

A young woman speaks out against police arresting 37 fellow protesters during a rally on Monday outside Government House against a plan to build an industrial estate in Chana district of Songkhla. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A young woman speaks out against police arresting 37 fellow protesters during a rally on Monday outside Government House against a plan to build an industrial estate in Chana district of Songkhla. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Locals affected by the proposed Chana industrial park project in Songkhla have vowed not to return home until their demands are met, as they urged the government to do a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on the project and end all litigation against 37 activists.

They are staging a prolonged protest in front of the United Nations headquarters in Bangkok. The demonstrators said they will resume their rally at Government House on Monday.

The group calling itself "Chana Rak Thin" (Protect the homeland Chana) delivered a statement on Wednesday condemning the government's order to crack down on protesters on Monday, calling it a violation of citizens' basic rights.

"The crackdown on the protest at Government House and the arrest of 37 protesters shows that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha does not care to listen to people's difficulties and has no interest in their problems," the group said.

They urged the government to fulfill its promises made to the group last year.

These included that it would scrutinise the work of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre regarding the promotion of the Chana industrial park project, organise a SEA study on the project, and halt all operations pending further notice.

They also called on the police to drop all charges against the 37 protesters.

Khairiyah Rahmanyah, a representative of Chana Rak Thin, said the group would do whatever it can to ensure the people's demands are met and the government held to account.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayut said on Wednesday that a government trip to the site of the industrial park was just a preliminary survey.

He said further studies must be conducted and rounds of public hearings held before the project can proceed.

He said previous pledges made to those who oppose the project were an acknowledgement of their opposition.

They could not be interpreted as binding promises between the government and protesters, he said.

"It is too early to pinpoint whether the project will go ahead or not, as there are still many legal procedures to go through," Gen Prayut said.

"If local people are really against the project, it will eventually be dismissed," he added.

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