On 18 October 2015, a group of ‘Kon Mae Sot Rak Tin’,villagers opposing the land expropriation, submitted a letter to the police commander of Mae Sot district police station in Tak province, requesting relevant authorities to stop harassment and intimidation of villagers and insisting that their activities demanding for justice is part of the community’s rights.
Yesterday, the villagers, those opposing the land expropriation for building an industrial estate as part of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tak province, were summoned by military to meet a local military commander without information of the purpose of the meeting, but assumably due to the villagers’ public discussion about impacts of the SEZ policy on local community during 15-16 October 2015. The villagers claimed that previously they have been monitored and intimidated by authorities. Therefore, the group decided to travel to Mae Sot district police station to submit a letter to Pol. Col. Chamlang Soodjai, police commander, regarding ‘cease harassment and intimidation against Wang Tha Kien villagers’.
The letter indicates that the villagers have filed complaints to various authorities about the impacts of the SEZ on local communities but have not yet received clear responses. In fact the situation in the area has become intense that villagers have been watched, intimidated, and harassed by military, police and security forces, even though the villagers have peacefully exercised their rights to seek resolutions. The villagers therefore appealed to relevant authorities to stop all intimidations, harassments or any actions that create fear, concern, difficulties, and conflicts among the villagers during the process of solving the problem. For instance, stop all surveillance over villagers’ activities, no entering into residences without permission. The letter emphasises that the demand for justice is the right of community to protect their ways of living, traditions, culture and natural resources. One of the villagers, a 72-year-old lady, was a representative to submit the letter. She has been living in Wang Tha Kien village since the village was located near the Moei River before moving to locate at present location. Her farming land is announced to be expropriated for building the industrial estate of SEZ as well.