Four villagers arrested for allegedly clearing land plots in protected areas

Thailand's park officers arrested four villagers allegedly clearing plots of land in a protected area in northeastern Thailand.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), eight officers from the Royal Forest Department (RFD) of the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum arrested four villagers from Kon San Sub-district while the villagers were clearing vegetation in Kok Yao protected area of the province.

The officers alleged the villagers for encroaching into protected areas and brought the four to the police station for detention. The authorities, however, said that they would not hold the four in custody, but would only interrogate the four  

Since August 2014, the RFD officers issued an order to evict Kok Yao villagers from the protect area, which was to be reclaimed by the authorities under the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s master plan to return the forest Order No. 64/2557.

The villagers, however, refused to obey the park officers and submitted a complaint to People’s Movement for Just Society (P-Move), a civil society group, which currently acts as  moderator of land disputes between governmental agencies and villagers.

Kok Yao protected area is now under the land dispute solving committee which was established by P-Move and the government. The committee is chaired by M.L. Panadda Diskul, the Minister of the Prime Minister's Office.

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