23 May 2024

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre has responded to the Bangkloi indigenous Karen people’s petition, for the centre to delay its consideration of Thailand’s application for Kaeng Krachan national park to be registered as a World Heritage Site, until the land dispute between the villagers and the Thai Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is resolved.

The Cross Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organization, submitted the petition letter on behalf of the Karen villagers to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO on January 22nd. The foundation said it received a response its director Ms. Mechtild Rössler on March 15th.

In the letter, the UNESCO director said the organisation had taken due note of the concern expressed in the letter, as well as the plight of the Karen people, and had passed on their letter to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the advisory committee, which is responsible for assessing the applications, for consideration and submission to the World Heritage Committee.

Ms. Mechtild said her office had passed the Karen villagers’ letter on to the Thai government via its UNESCO representative for consideration.

Meanwhile, 75 NGOs and civic society networks have sent a letter to international organizations and embassies in Thailand accusing Thai authorities of violating the human rights of the Karen villagers and urging them to convince the Thai government to end their mistreatment of the indigenous people.