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The military summoned Loei anti-mine village activists about links with five anti-junta Khon Kaen students arrested earlier this week while some soldiers allegedly plan to enter the mining area in conflict to transport ore deposits.

The Khon Rak Ban Koed Group, (KRBK), (People Who Love Their Homeland), a group of anti-mine activists from six villages of Wang Saphung District of the northeastern province of Loei, reported on Saturday evening that they had received a phone call from the military, summoning them to discuss KRBK’s links with the student activists from the Dao Din group and mining issues.

The phone call from the military came two days after the group posted pictures on Facebook on Thursday to support the five student activists who were arrested for waving three-fingered salutes at Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader, on Wednesday.

The KRBK’s placards read, “We encourage Dao Din, from People Who Love Their Homeland” and “To our children, Dao Din, looking for the path to Democracy, we stand with you”.

KRBK members taking pictures on Thursday. The placard reads, "To our children, Dao Din, looking for the path to Democracy, we stand with you", to support five arrested Khon Kaen student activists

According to the KRBK statement drafted on Saturday evening in response to the military’s request, the group pointed out during the past seven years Dao Din has been active in assisting the villagers to study and address environmental problems allegedly created by mining activities in the area. The KRBK statement called Dao Din “children of the KRBK”.

The group also added in the statement that they know how it feels to be suppressed by the military because before 30 September the military maintained tight control in the villages, claiming that they wanted to maintain law and order and sort out the mining conflict. However, four committees previously established by the junta to solve the problem did not truly listen to the villagers while prohibiting the KRBK not to make any move.

The KRBK further stated that there is another military unit which will enter the village to inspect and possibly transport ore deposits out of the village.

The embattled six villages of Wang Saphung in Loei have been affected by numerous environmental problems allegedly caused by mining activities over the last 12 years. Since the May coup d’état, the military intervened and attempted unsuccessfully to solve the conflict between the villagers, who have blocked access to the mines, and Tungkum Co. Ltd., the mine operator. However, the military is now trying the pass a bill which will make it easier for mining operators to get mining concessions from the state.

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