16th February 2015
Office of the Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister Office
Government House, 1 Pissanulok Road
Dusit, Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Subject: Murder of Mr. Chai Bunthonglek in Klong Sai Pattana, Suranthhani Province, Thailand
His Excellency General Prayuth Cha-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand
We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the killing of Mr. Chai Bunthonglek, a land rights activist and member of the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand. Mr. Chai was shot on 11th February 2014 at 6 p.m. by gunmen riding on a motorbike. This is the fourth assassination of a land rights activist from Klong Sai Pattana village, Chaiburi District Surathhani Province in the past five years. Ms. Montha Chukaew, Ms. Pranee Boonrat and Ms. Somporn Pattaphum were also killed by gunmen and the perpetrators have not yet been arrested.
The community members of Khong Sai Pattana continue to be threatened with forced evictions and violence by armed personnel closely linked the Jew Kung Juy Development Company, despite the fact that they won court cases in the Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeals against the Company. Although these victories affirm the legal rights of community members to their lands, the company continues to occupy these lands while the case is pending in the High Court.
Since the declaration of martial law in May, 2014, we have witnessed an escalation and expansion of human rights violations in Thailand. In both, rural and urban areas, local communities are becoming economically and politically marginalized and vulnerable because of land grabbing, forced evictions and restricted access to forest areas, which threaten their fundamental rights to life and dignity.
We fully extend our solidarity and support to the local communities defending their rights and especially to the Southern Peasant’s Federation of Thailand. We urge the Government of Thailand to immediately take the following actions:
1. Investigate, identify and arrest the gunmen and their accomplices responsible for the assassination of Mr. Chai, Ms. Montha Chukaew, Ms. Pranee Boonrat and Ms. Somporn Pattaphum in Chaiburi District, Suratthani Province and in Khaopranom District, Krabi Province.
2. Ensure that the Agricultural Land Reform Office transfers the disputed lands to the community members of Khlong Sai Pattana in the form of a community land deed as ordered by the Court of Appeals.
3. Ensure that the families of the deceased receive the reparations and compensations enshrined in Thai law.
We also urge the Government of Thailand to initiate and implement structural remedies to ensure peace and democracy in the country without delay. A crucial component to this is creating a climate of transparency and justice by repealing martial law and returning political power to a civilian government.
We are hopeful that the government of Thailand will take immediate action to bring justice and peace in both the short and long term for the collective benefit of its citizens and nation.
Peter Rosset, Center for the Study of Rural change in Mexico, Mexico
Mr. Lamphong Khanthalivanh
Walden Bello, Focus on the Global South, Philippines
Rede Social DeJutice e Direitos Humanos
Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association
Social Action for Change
Worker’s Information Center
Serikat Petani Indonesia
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
Dawei Development Association
Tarkapaw – Karen Youth Group
Dawei Research Association
Dawei Lawyer Group
Dawei Youth Fellowship
Community Sustainable livelihood and Development Committee – Kamothwe,Dawei
88 Generation (Peace and Open Society) – Dawei
88 Generation (Peace and Open Society) Myeik
University Student Union (Dawei District)
Dawei Farmer Union (Dawei District)
Human Rights Watch – Dawei
Tavoyan Women Union
Tavoy Youth Organization
Dawei Watch Foundation
Farmer Union (Myeik District)
Youth Doctors Network
Southern Youth – Tanintharyi
University Student Union (Myeik District)
Our Future Initiative
Myeik Health Network
NNER Myeik Network
Anti Coal Group (Myeik Region)
Dawei Nationalities Party (Central)
NGO Forum on ADB
Assembly of the poor
Northern Peasant Federation
Northern Development Foundation
Land Network of Timor Leste
American Jewish World Service
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
Focus on the Global South
Civil Rights Defenders
International Federation for Human Rights
World Organization against Torture
Land Research Action Network