By The Nation
According to Transborder News, an online news agency, some security officers were seen blocking reporters on Ramkhamhang 39 Soi 17 in Bangkok, where the event was being held by P-Move – a group campaigning for land rights.
Prayong Doklamyai, P-Move’s leader, posted on his Facebook page on Sunday that the group had been in negotiation with the officers and agreed that the seminar itself was not a political gathering, so it should go ahead as planned.
However, the officers felt uncomfortable about the planned press conference associated with the seminar, and therefore intended to apply means to disrupt the event, he said he had been told.
Despite the blocking of some reporters and the deployment of a number of security officers, the seminar went ahead and views on the two Acts were shared among participants.
Phanudej Kerdmali, secretary-general of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, which opposes the Acts, said the proposed legislative amendments would result in increased authority for park officials to manage overlapping claims concerning land rights in the protected areas.
However, this, in turn, would deprive locals of their rights and reduce their status from claimed landowners to inhabitants.
This, he pointed out, could heighten conflict between state officials and forest dwellers.
Prayong said it should be noted that forests in the North, which are inhabited by ethnic groups, had more unencroached-upon areas left than in other regions, but the government had come up with a plan to declare new protected status over these areas, in a move that he viewed as unfair to these inhabitants.
The government should instead enforce its policy of forest reclamation in relation to areas that were once forests but had since been encroached upon, he insisted.