For Immediate Release on 18th May 2014
Central Administrative Court hears the 104 years old indigenous karen leader, Mr. KorAee and karen villagers whose houses and barns were burnt down while being forcibly evicted from their ancestral land by Kangkrachan National Park officials.
10.00 hrs. on Monday 19th May 2014, the Central Administrative Court will be hearing the case of Mr. KorAee Mimee, the 104 years old indigenous karen tribe leader and six karen villagers from Bangkloybon Villages against the authorities of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department and Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment. The lawsuit was filed on 4th May 2012 and relates to the destruction and burning of houses and barns of villagers by the Kaengkrachan National Park officials in order to evict them from their ancestral land.
Mr. KorAee and the villagers will testify before court on the facts surrounding the forcible eviction, as well as its effect and damages on their traditional way of living, livelihood and ethnic identity. The villagers also request the court to give recognition to their rights to return and live on their ancestral land as well as to order the relevant authorities to pay compensation for damages of the villager’s properties.
During 5th – 9th May 2011, Mr. Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, Head of Kaengkrachan National Park Office together with the Park’s officials are alleged to have demolished and burnt down houses and properties of Mr. KorAee as well as of more than 20 other karen families who were living in the Bangkloybon Villages in Kaengkrachan District, Petchburee Province. Over 100 houses and barns were burnt down, and indigenous karen villagers were forcibly evicted as part of the “Tanaosri Operation” or“The Intensive Operation to Evict, Push-out and Arrest Minority People Who Encroach Kaengkrachan National Park Area Along Thailand – Myanmar border”.
Mr. KorAee and the villagers are Thai nationals of karen ethic who call themselves “ParKerYor”. The karens are an indigenous tribe with their own “ethnic identity”. They have been living on the high-land in Bangkloy River in Bangkloybon Village since many generations for over 100 years. They have been farming in this ancestral land following their traditional self-sufficient system of farm rotation. There has been considerable research in the fields of agriculture, ecology, forestry, and ecological anthropology showing that the karen traditional farm rotation system is compatible with the conservation objectives and helps in maintaining the balance of nature.
Mr. KorAee and another six villagers, therefore, filed the lawsuit to the Central Administrative Court stating that the operation carried out by the Head of Kaengkrachan National Park Office and his officials in order to forcibly evict the villagers from their ancestral land is the administrative order/operation with factual defect (l’erreur de fait). Such order/operation were implemented without prior thorough investigation of fact and personal legal status of the villagers as according to nationality and civil registration laws. The force-eviction was also done without investigation of whether or not the land in question were traditionally occupied and used by the villagers. Furthermore, the Head of Kaengkrachan National Park accused the villagers of being “a group of minorities who committed encroachment of Kaengkrachan National Park Area” and ordered the demolition and destruction of villagers’ houses and properties.
Such order and operation of Kaengkrachan National Park Office are, therefore, incompatible with the National Park Act. B.E. 2504 and legal principles governing the use of administrative power and discretion. Such principle requires that the choice of administrative action used must be the appropriate and least harsh mean that would render least negative affect as possible. But the demolition and burning operation used by Kaengkrachan National Park Office were clearly not the least violent mean. Whereas, more appropriate solution could be applied including the Policy and Practice regarding the Restoration of Karen Traditions as adopted in Cabinet Resolution on 3 August 2010 which suggests halting of arrest, recognition of the indigenous keren’s rights to remain on their ancestral land, and revocation of protected forest declaration that overlap with the land traditionally occupied and used by the villagers prior to the demarcation of such protected forest area.
The demolition and burning of villagers’ properties as well as the force-eviction order/operation carried out by Mr. Chaiwat – the Head of Kaengkrachan National Park Office resulted in damages to the villagers due to lost of homes, properties, lands as well as damage to their identity and ability to nourish and conserve their traditional practice and livelihood as guaranteed in the constitution. The villagers, therefore, request the court to order the relevant authorities to pay 9,533090 Thai Baht compensation, as well as the recognition of their rights to return to their ancestral land of Bangkloybon Village through implementation of the above mentioned Cabinet Resolution of 3 August 2010.
For further information, please contact:
– Mr. Surapong Kongchantul Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Ethnic Minorities, the Stateless, Migrant Workers and the Displaced People, the Lawyers Council of Thailand, Tel: 081-6424006
– Ms. Waraporn Utairangsri, Lawyer Tel: 084-8091997