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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

Why we MUST #SaveBangkloi Karen indigenous community from Thailand’s false climate solutions?




🌱For over a century, the villagers of the Karen community in Bang Kloi have been peacefully living on their ancestral land, in harmony with the Kaeng Krachan forest.


🚨It has now been two decades of continuous oppression and harassment for the Karen indigenous peoples, forcibly evicted, tried, and imprisoned for fighting the unlawful practices of the authorities and trying to return to their truthful homes.


Why are they being evicted from their homes?


🇹🇭 The area of the Kaeng Krachan forest was declared a forest reserve in 1965, which led to its incorporation into the Kaeng Krachan National Park in 1981. In 1996, the Thai government used it as a tool to put pressure on Indigenous Peoples accusing them of encroaching on the forest and forcing them to relocate. In 2021, the Kaeng Krachan forest was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site amidst much debate, a status that eventually led to the criminalization of the Karen people’s occupation.


🗓️ In 2019, the National Park Act 2562 was passed, further marginalizing indigenous groups and communities living in protected forest areas. The Thai government has since been using this Act as a false climate solution in order to continue evicting local populations with impunity.


Under the guise of forest and nature conservation, the Thai government unjustly criminalizes Indigenous Peoples living on their own land by accusing them of encroachment, while their traditional ways of life actually help preserve nature! This exemplifies the weaponization of false climate solutions to evict and penalize the undesirable, with no intention to end human rights violations!

What injustice have the Karen Indigenous Peoples face?


❗️Since February 2021, around 100 villagers have been forcibly removed from their homes. No later than March 2021, 22 members of the Karen indigenous peoples were arrested and imprisoned by Thai national park authorities, among women, children, and at least one person with physical impairment.


The Thai government has since been systematically interfering with the judicial process, violating the basic human rights of the Karen people!


❌ The villagers were coerced into signing legal documents in a language they could not read, and denied legal counsel during the first few hours of the process, the same process which led to the forest land encroachment charges. Destitute and homeless, they had nowhere to go back to, with the impending threat of a 50,000 THB fine and being sent to jail if they attempted to return to their homes.


What is the most recent development?


The most recent order from the Thai Prime Minister stipulates the Karen villagers will be able to return to their lands in the Bang Kloi forest


On April 30, 2023, the former Prime Minister issued an order allowing Karen villagers to return to their land inside the national park, as part of his campaign for the May 14 general election.


But was this decision taken only to bolster Prayut’s campaign, or does this order mark a critical first step towards recognizing the Thai government's misuse of forest conservation policies, and a genuine willingness to grant Indigenous Peoples their land rights?


While this represents an essential first step towards the government's recognition of their misuse of forest conservation policies, we are waiting for the government’s next steps in granting Indigenous Peoples their land rights, and in implementing REAL climate solutions!


Our Call to Action


Manushya Foundation calls on the international community to monitor the actions of the Thai government!


✍️ Manushya issued a Joint Statement back in March 2021 urging the Thai government to drop all charges against the indigenous peoples of Bang Kloi and to install an independent demarcation committee to resolve land disputes in the region, in alignment with the cabinet resolution of the 3rd of August 2010, which explicitly stipulates that the Thai state agreed to restore Karen ways of life and prohibit park officials from evicting them.


✊We will not stop fighting for the Indigenous Peoples of Bang Kloi until the Thai government orders reparations for the hams suffered by the Karen community, and the cessation of all violations and discriminations against Indigenous Peoples. We believe at Manushya this can only be achieved by engaging in meaningful dialogue, by respecting the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples, and by creating an independent multi-party committee.


✊We urge the Thai authorities to cease relying on false climate solutions and stop weaponizing nature conservation policies to unlawfully criminalize marginalized communities and evict Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral land!


🌱Thailand must switch to an Intersectional Feminist, Just, Green, and Inclusive Transition on energy, with local communities and Indigenous Peoples at the center of the decision-making process! They are the ones who possess valuable knowledge about nature and who know which solutions and policies must be implemented in order to effectively mitigate the climate crisis! We urge the Thai government to recognize them as Protectors and Guardians of the Forest, and to listen to their voices and demands!


📢 Manushya will keep ensuring the villagers’ voices are heard and that they receive due recognition for their entitlement to their ancestral land rights!


References:


While you’re here…


➡️ Read more about our advocacy work and statements on how to #SaveBangkloi:



➡️ Learn more about Manushya Foundation’s advocacy and achievements for climate justice and a just energy transition:



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