11 July 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has set up a 28-member independent committee to resolve the long-standing land conflict, between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and a group of indigenous Karen villagers of Ban Bangkloi in the Kaeng Krachan national park in Phetchaburi province.

The panel, which will comprise representatives from the state, civic society, such as P-move and the Ban Bangkloi community, will be given 30 days to work out a solution.

Natural Resources and Environment Permanent Secretary Jatuporn Burutpat said today that the prime minister has also instructed the police to suspend legal action, against the alleged land encroachers among the Karen villagers, until the panel develops a solution to the problem.

Jatupat said that he took an inspection trip to Ban Bangkloi over the weekend, to visit the villagers, and found that several of them still lack necessities for farming, such as shortages of water and infertile land.

In the initial stage, he said that the Ground Water Resources Department has sunk a water well, to provide water for the Karen villagers, and the Land Development Department will send experts to develop their land, so it is suitable for farming.

Some of the landless Bangkloi villagers, who have been evicted from Jai Paendin land in Kaeng Krachan national park, have been camping in front of Government House to demand land on which to make a living.  They claim that the land from which they were evicted is their ancestral land.

Lately, “Through the Sky” protesters, who are affiliated with the Ratsadon group, and representatives of the Kao Klai party were spotted among the Karen protesters in front of Government House, reportedly to offer help to the Karens, prompting concern among government officials that the Karen villagers may side with the anti-government protesters.