By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
Sakkaphon Charirat, the lawyer for the group opposing potash mining in Sakon Nakhon’s Wanon Niwat district, said yesterday that Sutta Khamnoi and Kitthakorn Noi-saeng have been charged with violating the Public Gatherings Act.
He said they had already reported to Wanon Niwat Police Station to listen to the complaint against them, while their protest against potash exploration ended at midday yesterday as per a police deadline issued on Monday.
Local people have gathered at the entrance to China Mingda Potash Corporation’s exploration site since last week to protest as the company’s team entered the site. The company, however, has said it has permission from the landowners and local authorities to carry out the exploration work.
Sakkaphon said the two locals were sued by police for leading the protest without notifying officers as per the legal requirement. He also said that the Chinese company planned to file more complaints against the protesters on the grounds that they forced a halt to the exploration work and caused damages to the company.
“As of now only two persons have been sued for the effort to protect the environment and their hometown. Both of them still have good morale and pledge to defend their rights in the justice system,” he said.
China Mingda manager Thanyapat Wangwongsiri said that because of fierce resistance from local people, the company had to postpone its exploration work to avoid further conflict and damages to the company.
“We have addressed the situation that we face to a higher chain of command in China and we are waiting for instructions on further operations,” Thanyapat said.
“We would like to emphasise that our company is not a private company, but a joint venture between Thai and Chinese authorities, so we have to inform our mother agency in China about the conflict that we have faced.”
He said the company’s lawyer was collecting evidence of incidents and was planning further lawsuits against the protesters.