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Men claiming to be police officers in plainclothes have attempted to block a rally by a civil society group after allegedly finding illicit drugs at the meeting.

On 29 March 2017, about 100 members of the People’s Movement for Just Society (P-Move) gathered at a centre of the Banthat Mountains Land Reform Network in Mueang District of the southern province of Trang. The meeting was held as the group planned to travel to Government House in Bangkok on 30 March.

As the meeting started, four men wearing something similar to police uniforms intervened to inquire about the purpose of the gathering.

During the questioning, one of the men later shouted ‘whose methamphetamine pills are those’ and lifted a plastic bag which allegedly contained the illicit pills to show to meeting participants.

Natharat Thaenmak, representative of the Banthat Mountains Land Reform Network, said that the four men did not allow P-Move members to take photos of the alleged methamphetamine pills.

She and most of the meeting participants believed that the men planted drugs at the meeting to prevent the group from travelling to Government House in Bangkok to campaign for land rights.   

If the men were not police officers, the authorities should arrest them, Natharat urged.

She added that for the last 10 years many similar meetings have been held and not even alcohol was present at the meetings.

P-Move and its affiliated organizations have been campaigning on community rights and land rights since early June 2014 after the junta issued Order No. 64/2014 and 66/2014 to protect the forest, which affected many of the country’s poor.

P-Move calls on the government to implement bills on community rights and a land bank, which would allow communities to utilise local natural resources.

Men (in blue clothing) claiming to be police officers at a P-move meeting on 29 March 2017 in Mueang District, Trang Province (photo from Somboon Khamhang's Facebook page)

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