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BANGKOK 19 December 2018 14:18
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Karen brace for final verdict on forest eviction

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Karen brace for final verdict on forest eviction

By THE NATION

 

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Ko-i

 

THE SUPREME Administrative Court will today read the verdict in the administrative lawsuit over the 2010 forced eviction of the Karen community from Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan National Park.

 

Among those eager to hear the ruling will be Ko-i Mimi, the 106-year-old Karen ethnic community’s spiritual leader whose last wish is to return to his birthplace at Ban Bangkloi Bon before he dies.

 

The verdict will determine the destiny of Ko-i and his fellow Karen who wish to resettle in their former village and have petitioned for compensation for the suffering they endured in an enforced eviction operation under the command of former Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn.

 

The dispute between the Karen villagers of Ban Bangkloi Bon, and the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department stemmed from a park officers’ operation led by Chaiwat in 2011. The officers drove the Karen out of Kaeng Krachan forest by forcing all community members to move off their land and burning down the entire village along with all of their belongings. 

 

The villagers say the forced eviction not only destroyed their homes and belongings but also violated their fundamental human rights and freedom. 

 

Moreover, they told the court that Chaiwat wrongly labelled them illegal immigrants and forest encroachers, despite all village members having Thai citizenship and having lived in the forest long before the establishment of Kaeng Krachan National Park.

 

With legal assistance from the Lawyers Council, Ko-I and six other villagers in 2012 sued the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and Chaiwat at the Administrative Court, seeking fair remedy for their damages and the return to their former village.

 

Karen activist Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, who was last seen in the custody of park officials under Chaiwat on April 17, 2014, is widely supposed to have fallen victim to an enforced disappearance after his protests against the eviction. Billy was a primary witness in the case. 

 

Nevertheless, the Administra-tive Court in September 2016 ruled in favour of the defendants, including Chaiwit, pronouncing the forced evictions legal and dismissing the plaintiffs’ demands except for compensation of Bt10,000 per head for damage to their belongings.

 

Calling the verdict “unsatisfactory”, the plaintiffs launched an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court.

 

Meanwhile, members of Amnesty International Thailand yesterday showed their support for the former residents of Ban Bangkloi Bon by wearing masks bearing images of Ko-I’s face.

 

Amnesty also urged netizens who sympathised with the Karen villagers to do likewise and post photos of themselves wearing Ko-I masks on their social media accounts.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30347506

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-06-12

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Karen dismayed as Phetchaburi forest eviction upheld

By Chalinee Thirasupa 
The Nation

 

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A centenarian and five other ethnic Karen plaintiffs have won compensation after forestry officials burnt down their homes in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan National Park in 2012 – but not the right to return to the place they had long called home.

 

Although the Supreme Administrative Court on Tuesday ruled in their favour, the six – including the Karen community’s 107-year-old spiritual leader Ko-I – expressed dismay at the verdict. 

 

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“Actually, we don’t want money. Grandpa Ko-I just wants to go back home,” Ko-I’s granddaughter-in-law Pinnapa Prueksaphan said after hearing the court’s ruling.

 

Ko-I is also a leading campaigner for the rights of the Karen people. One of his grandsons, Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, disappeared in 2014 after last being seen in the custody of forestry officials. His suspected enforced disappearance made international headlines.

 

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Pinnapa is the wife of Billy, whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. Then-park superintendent Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn is reportedly the prime suspect in the disappearance, though the case investigation has stalled. 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30347566

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-06-12

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We want our homes back, not money, say Karen forest dwellers

By THE NATION

 

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Pinnapa Prueksaphan, the granddaughter-in-law of Karen community’s 107-year-old spiritual leader Ko-I, turns up at the Supreme Administrative Court yesterday.

 

KAREN FOREST dwellers have vowed to fight on for their right to return to their old homes in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan National Park, despite a court ruling yesterday.

 

The right to return means much more than “financial compensation” to the ethnic community’s 107-year-old spiritual leader Ko-I, who lived at Ban Bangkloi Bon long before it fell within the boundaries of the national park created in 1981. 

Ko-I is one of the six plaintiffs in the case filed with the administrative court after forestry officials burned down more than 100 houses at Ban Bangkloi Bon in 2012 in a bid to evict their Karen owners. 

 

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“Actually, we don’t want money. Grandpa Ko-I just wants to go home,” Ko-I’s granddaughter-in-law Pinnapa Prueksaphan said after the Supreme Administrative Court awarded more than Bt50,000 compensation to each of the six plaintiffs yesterday.

 

While the court increased their compensation from the Bt10,000 ruled by a lower court, it did not allow them to return to their former home.

 

The court cited the fact that the Karen had no land-rights documents or permits issued by authorities to occupy any part of Kaeng Krachan National Park.

 

“We will try to prove that these ethnic Karen people had been living there before the park was created,” said Surapong Kongchantuk from the Lawyers Council of Thailand.

 

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He said a Cabinet resolution issued on August 3, 2010 gave guidance on how to rehabilitate the Karen’s ways of life and protect their communities in the disputed areas. 

 

“The Supreme Administrative Court mentioned this Cabinet resolution in its verdict. So this means all relevant authorities should comply with this Cabinet resolution,” Surapong said. 

 

He said his team would cite the Cabinet’s resolution to trigger the process and prove that Ko-I and his community had lived inside the area that is now part of the national park. 

 

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Ko-I is a leading campaigner for the rights of the Karen people. One of his grandsons, Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, disappeared in 2014 after last being seen in the custody of forestry officials. His suspected enforced disappearance made international headlines.

 

“Grandpa feels unhappy in Ban Bangkloi Lang because he thinks he has taken a share of resources that had initially belonged to others,” said Pinnapa, the wife of Billy, whose fate and whereabouts remain unknown. 

 

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Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, then-chief of the Kaeng Krachan National Park, is reportedly the prime suspect in the disappearance but has always maintained that he released Billy following a brief interview and doesn’t know what happened to him after that. 

 

Now serving as the director of the Conservation Forest Area Management Office 10, Chaiwat was also involved in the operation to burn down the Karen forest dweller’s houses. 

 

“I am not going to apologise for the burning,” Chaiwat said. “Working to the fullest of my abilities during my stint there, I am proud that no one will be able to encroach on the Kaeng Krachan forest any more.” 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30347602

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-06-13

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Sometimes money doesn't buy Governments intentions ! Does anyone else get the feeling more homes will be burnt and maybe another mystery dissapearance or two

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Well ---- we remember the southern Lawyer who disappeared from the Morchit bus station;

then we also remember the jewelry shop owner; with whom and his family were killed after buying the stolen the Saudi royal jewels! ...and so on and so forth and excreta, excreta, excreta, excreta, excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta,excreta, 

That is how all governments are East, West, South and North and will always be.... democracy is an excuse to all!!!!

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The never ending problem of simple indigenous people being uprooted using 'modern' laws of imminent domain.  No doubt they will be placed in controlled, 'model-villages' and made into tourist attractions.  Those unwilling to submit will be dealt with. 

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Pity they didn't take advantageof the wonderful state educational system and end up as high court judges. Then their ancestral homes would have been safe as. . . well, houses.

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Don't forget that they were expanding further into the park, claiming more and more area to grow crops by clear felling hillsides of the park. The case was primarily about whether they could expand rather than remain in existing areas. They lost the right they were claiming which was access to all "ancestral lands" in the previous case. 

 

They have not been thrown out of the existing village (which is huge) or farming area - their ability to expand (encroach) is what was stopped. 

 

Just have a look at Google earth to see their current "village".

I do somewhat sympathize with their situation but its a national park that is home to tigers, tapir, krating and some Thailand's rarest animals. Based on my trips to the north of Thailand if Thailand wants to keep these animals then this no expansion ruling (from the previous case) is a very good thing

 

 

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