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The People's Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) has ended a 15-day protest in front of Government House after several sub-committees were formed to handle community rights issues and demands made by the activists.

P-Move activists announcing the end of their 15-day protest.
(Photo by Pachara Khamchamnan)

P-Move, a network of community rights groups from across the country, began occupying the streets in front of Government House on 2 October to demand fairer policies regarding decentralisation, judicial reform, land rights, natural resource management, community participation in disaster prevention, indigenous rights, protection for undocumented people, and state welfare. They are also calling for a new constitution to be drafted by an entirely elected Constituent Assembly.

They remained on Ratchadamnoen Road, next to the entrance to Government House, for 15 days despite continuous pressure from the police attempting to make them move their protest site across the street. The police claimed that protests within 50 metres of Government House are prohibited and threatened to press charges against protest leaders.

On Tuesday (17 October), the network announced that the protest was ending after 15 days following several rounds of negotiation with government representatives. Activist Prayong Doklamyai said that a cabinet resolution was passed on Monday (16 October), and the government has promised to set up 7 sub-committees to handle the network’s demands.

The sub-committees will begin meeting this month.  They have been given a 1 year to fix issues regarding legislation, policies, and cabinet resolutions. It was also agreed that urgent issues facing the indigenous Chao Le community in Lipe, Satun, and the Bang Kloi indigenous Karen community, as well as issues with community titles in Nakhon Pathom’s Lhong Yong subdistrict would be resolved within 30 days.

Prayong noted the House of Representatives’ support for their demands and said that the network would be campaigning for political parties to vote for any related legislation that might be proposed. The network will also continue to campaign for a reform of the justice system, as it believes that a change from an adversarial system to an inquisitorial system will allow marginalised groups to be treated fairly when they face legal prosecution.

“We are not making personal demands; we are calling for a just society,” Prayong said. He said the network has learned after 13 years of fighting community rights issues that there need to be systemic changes to fix issues in the long run.  He added that they will be working with the legislative branch and the government to push for change, including the making of a bill granting amnesty to community members affected by the NCPO junta’s “Forest Reclamation” policy, which led to a large number of encroachment charges.

Meanwhile, Jamnon Nupan, chair of P-Move’s executive board, said that the activists will be back if the government does not keep its promises, noting that the next protest might be longer to ensure that issues that they are campaigning about are resolved on a policy level, not just on a case-by-case basis.

The network issued a statement saying that the government has agreed to their demands and promised to work to resolve several urgent community right issues. It said that it will continue its campaign, and promised that protesters will return if the government shows that it is not taking their demands seriously. 

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