Closing Dongmaifai Mine: 26 Years of Tears and 2 Years of Restoration

“We’ve had enough fighting. We’ve fought for over 20 years. It’s enough. It should end with our generation.  So that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the gains from our struggle in the future, protected and loved, without needing to fight anyone.  Our generation must end it. Really." Maneenut Uthairueang, Khao Laoyai-Pha Chandai Community Forest Conservation Group

“We decided to fight. We had losses. We’ve already suffered losses. Maybe we can’t bring the one who did the killing to justice, but it’s okay. I just wish for one thing; that this forest, these trees are protected, so that when our children and grandchildren grow up, they can make a living here and will want to stay. In the past, I used to collect bamboo shoots on this mountain.” Son Khamchaem, wife of Subdistrict Head Thongmuan Khamchaem, a protest leader who was assassinated

It's been more than 28 years since villagers in the Phachandai area protested against an industrial limestone mine and mill on ‘Phuphahuak,’ a mountain located in the National Kao Kloi and Na Klang Forest, Dongmafai Subdistrict, Suwannakhuha District, Nong Bua Lam Phu Province. A private company was granted a concession to develop the mine. When the concession period ended on 24 September 2020, area villagers decided to close off the site and announced plans to restore it as a community forest.

In this documentary series, we explore the situation 2 years on to see how the lives of villagers in the Khao Laoyai-Pha Chandai community forest area have changed.  The Ministry of Industry still claims jurisdiction over industrial stone mines sites, posing a challenge to the restoration of a community forest.  In addition, 4 community leaders, including Village Head Thongmuan Khamchaem, have died and the culprits have yet to be apprehended. 

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