Tuesday, February 25, 2020

National parks bill deliberation disrupted at parliament as forest group ‘makes noise’

Mar 06. 2019
Photo credit : P-MOVE
Photo credit : P-MOVE
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By The Nation

Police this afternoon have apprehended representatives of a forest dwellers’ group after they refused to stop making noise inside Parliament where the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) was deliberating on amendments to the National Parks Act they oppose.

They were not charged but sent back to their campsite near Wat Benchamabophit a few blocks away.

Some 20 representatives led by P-Move, campaigning for forestry community rights and forest dwellers’ rights, had demanded participation in the NLA’s deliberation. They were allowed to observe the event for around 15 minutes.

Without being able to do anything about the bill, they made loud noises after leaving the chamber but insited to stay around at the compound.

The police said they urged the activists to stop, but they refused, so they were ejected. 

P-Move led the forest residents’ representative to Bangkok in late February. They have been camping around the temple in an attempt to influence decision-makers on the bill and some few others, which the group claimed would restrict community rights.

The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation bills were under discussion. 

The group feared that the bills would further restrict their rights of access to the forest and the resources in the forest.

The National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department had attempted to explain to the protesters, assuring them that forest dwellers could still access forest resources, but under the new conditions set.

The bills are part of major amendments to the old acts on national parks and wildlife conservation which do not address how to live in the forest for residents who have overlapping claims with the state.

Under the new bills, conditions are due to be introduced to resolve the issue, but with some limitations set, including a limited residency of 20 years. 

Some penalties to be imposed under the new bills are also seen as too harsh and further threaten residents, the protesters claimed.

Prayong Doklamyai, P-Move leader, told the Nation the group has not yet decided on the next move as the deliberation on the bills continued throughout the afternoon despite their strong opposition.

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