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Evicted Karen protest Thailand’s push to make Kaeng Krachan World Heritage Site

Jul 04. 2019
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By The Nation

Hitting back at Thailand’s proposing Kaeng Krachan National Park as a World Heritage Site, an observer at the ongoing World Heritage Meeting in Azerbaijan has submitted a report on rights abuses against the Karen who were evicted from the park.

Overlapping Petchaburi and Prachaup Khiri Khan provinces, the park was the site of a confrontation between Karen villagers and authorities in 2011. The Karen village of Ban Bang Kloi Bon was burned down and the residents forcibly evicted by officers led by then-Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Chaiwat Limlikitsorn. The conflict flared again in 2014, when Karen land-rights activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen disappeared after being detained by Chaiwat’s team of officers. Billy has not been seen since.

A Karen civil-rights group at the Azerbaijan meeting is insisting that the rights of the Karen community to live and practise their traditional way of life at the Kaeng Krachan forest complex be acknowledged by the Thai authorities before the area is named a natural World Heritage Site.

The complaint was submitted to a representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The World Heritage Committee will make a decision on the matter on Saturday.

Meanwhile a dispute over the borderline between Thailand and Myanmar in the park was resolved after Myanmar and Chinese delegations agreed to support Thailand’s proposal to downsize the proposed area of the forest complex by 15 per cent.

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