Displaced Karen threaten to return
published : 19 Jan 2023 at 04:05
newspaper section: News
writer: Post Reporters
Karen villagers evicted from Bang Kloy Bon, and Chai Phaendin forest villages in part of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi in 1996 are threatening to return to the villages.
A government panel has been asked to fix land grievances. The villagers want to be updated on its progress by the end of this month or are threatening to return.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha formed it on Feb 3 last year. The panel is investigating the land dispute between the Karen villagers and the national park authorities.
After they were evicted from Bang Kloy Bon and Chai Phaendin in 1996, about 30 villagers returned in 2021, claiming the land provided to them wasn't sufficient for their farming needs.
That led to their arrest on charges of violating the 2019 National Park Act, 1964 Reserved Forest Act and 1941 Forest Act. The case is now being reviewed by the prosecution.
"We hope to know the progress in the panel's work by February, or we will have no choice but to return to the villages again," said Phongsak Tonnamphet, a representative of the Karen villagers who submitted an open letter to PM's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai on Wednesday.
The longer the panel fails to come up with a solution, the longer these villagers would be affected as they rely mainly on swidden agriculture and rice growing, he said.
"It's been two years since we first faced legal action [for encroaching on the park's land]," he said. "Since the panel was set up, we haven't received any updates.
The villagers urged the panel to ask the Office of the Attorney-General to drop arraignment against the 30 villagers and issue an order for them to return to Bang Kloy Bon.
They want the Ministry of National Resources and Environment to instruct Kaeng Krachan National Park to work with them in allocating more land in Bang Kloy Bon for cultivation, according to the letter.
- Kaeng Krachan
- national park