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One of the oldest communities in Bangkok has declared an end to its almost 25-year-long fight against a plan to turn their homes into a public park.
On 22 April 2018, Pom Mahakan residents held a “Farewell Mahakan” event to mark the end of the struggle to protect the community from the demolition plan imposed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). Thawatchai Woramahakhun, a former community leader, said that the event was held to thank the media, academics and human rights defenders who supported the community in its struggle.
“In the 26 years of the fight, it seems like everything happened just yesterday. It is difficult to explain how we have reached today, the day that the Pom Mahakan community has to invite all our friends, brothers, sisters, comrades and allies to come together for the last time, a gathering to say goodbye and to close the curtain on the Pom Mahakan community.”
Thawatchai Woramahakhun, a former community leader, prostrates himself before media, activists and academics at the event
Phonthep Buranaburidet, one resident, said that the BMA has ordered the seven remaining families living behind the fortress of Pom Mahakan to move out before 25 April. Most of the residents will have to stay at temporary accommodation in Bangkok but they are fundraising to buy a plot in one of the city’s suburbs to build the new community of Pom Mahakan.
“We will build a new life with the people of Pom and the life of Pom. Now we have no land at all and have to stay with friends but in the next couple of years, we might be able to buy land,” said Phonthep, adding a plot cost over three million baht.
The community of Pom Mahakan, at least 318 people strong, is almost as old as Bangkok itself. Their struggle began in 1992 after the BMA asked residents to move out in exchange for compensation, but they resisted.
Subsequently, the BMA cited a 2002 cabinet resolution and a 2004 Administrative Court order to demolish the cluster of historic wooden houses behind the fortress wall and develop the area into a public park.
The demolished houses
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