UNESCO's involvement in forced evictions: Help us #SaveBangkloi!
#Indigenous Bangkloi villagers were evicted from their ancestral land and lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they want to return but instead of recognizing them as protectors of the forest, the Thai government criminalizes them and throws them even deeper into poverty!
Why? Thailand incorporated Bangkloi villagers' ancestral land into Kaeng Krachan National Park in 1981 and consequently evicted them for forest encroachment - even though they are guardians of the forest and had lived in the area for generations.
Since 2015, Thailand has been striving for Kaeng Krachan National Park to be listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. While the process was postponed in 2019 due to human rights violations against Bangkloi villagers, UNESCO eventually added Kaeng Krachan to its list on 26 July 2021.
Did UNESCO know that a local land rights defender Porlajee "Billy" Rakchongcharoen was murdered in 2014 for his activism and standing up for his people?
Did UNESCO know that 22 community members were arrested in March 2021 for wanting to return to their ancestral lands situated in the park? And that Phetchaburi provincial prosecutors have prepared an indictment against 27 Bangkloi villagers in August 2021?
UNESCO decided to ignore calls of #indigenouspeoples and civil society, and advice from UN human rights experts, including UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, on human rights and the environment, and on the situation of human rights defenders. All of these experts strongly recommended postponing the nomination of Kaeng Krachan NP until all human rights concerns are addressed. Despite that, UNESCO decided to act otherwise!
While the status of a UNESCO site will bring "prestige", even more tourists, and more money to Thailand, its original peoples will be thrown into poverty and made homeless.
✊🏼 We strongly condemn the Thai government’s judicial harassment, rights violations, and unfair land eviction against Karen Bangkloi villagers.
✊🏼 We urge Thailand to recognize that the rights violations remain unresolved and to accept the request made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to conduct an onsite visit to assess the situation and aid in finding an amicable solution.
✊🏼 It’s time we cease all discriminatory acts targeting indigenous groups and respect their ancestral lands.
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