#JusticeForPhichit - Fighting for Justice & Corporate Accountability!
Gold mining destroyed their environment and contaminated groundwater. Now they need to buy clean drinking water or they risk their own health. While they used to be able to grow all their vegetables, mining chemicals polluted the soil and made it dangerous to cultivate. The villagers have been struggling to make ends meet and became dependent on outside help.
Villagers living in the close neighborhood of the Chatree Goldmining Complex owned by Akara Resources, a Thai subsidiary of Australian Kingsgate, have been fighting back against harmful impacts of the gold mine for twenty years. During this time, their physical and mental health worsened as they were confronted not only with industrial pollution but also with judicial harassment, threats, and intimidation.
During our last visit to the community in March 2021, we talked to the villagers and learned about their ongoing health issues caused by air pollution, and water and soil contamination from the mine. People reported itchiness and black and brown rashes sometimes resulting in severe scars from scratching which need to be treated with an expensive prescribed cream. Others described respiratory problems, dizziness, and fatigue.
However, the mine and its operations negatively impacted also the community members’ well-being and mental health. Many expressed concerns over eating vegetables grown on contaminated soil and eventually developing cancer. Some experience anxiety and depression and have trouble sleeping.
The mine also disturbed community life. Families were split over land acquisitions by the company and feuds turned into lawsuits, other conflicts arose between relatives and community members who work in the mine and its opponents. Some farmers who earned their living growing corn, sugarcane, and potatoes lost their jobs and needed to search for a new one — often further away from their homes.
But even after two decades, the villagers of Phichit do not give up their fight for justice and accountability. On the 2nd of September 2021, they will bring a class action lawsuit to Ratchada Civil Court in Bangkok, demanding compensation for their loss of livelihood, drinking water, and healthcare expenses. This is an important moment for all people in Thailand trying to stop corporate capture as it is the first class-action lawsuit filed by a Thai community!
How you can help the villagers to have their voices heard?
Share this story with your network and denounce corporate capture in Thailand under #JusticeForPhichit
Directly support the community with a donation to:
Sirirat Taitong, Chatchadapon Lorsap
*All information was collected during our field trip to Phichit Province from 15th-17th March 2021. Records of the interviews are archived with Manushya Foundation.
Akara Resources, Company highlights, available at: http://www.akararesources.com/en/about/company-highlights