Since the implementation of the Forestry Master Plan (FMP) by the military government in 2014, the struggles of landless villagers, indigenous peoples, urban and rural poor, and frontline communities have often been met with violence in the form of physical attacks, killings, enforced disappearance, burning and destruction of houses and property, “mandatory attitude adjustment,” and the use of SLAPP against activists and community members.
By Niabdulghafar Tohming and Matt Davidson
Prior to the arrival of tourists in the peak season of tourism which starts around November – December, Sea gypsies, or what Thais and foreigners call “Chao Le”, from coastal areas of the southern region of Thailand, travel and gather for their annual assembly called “Ngan Ruam Yat Chao Le”—the Assembly of the Sea Gypsies.
“[Mr.] Den is not going anywhere, he is always with us, in our heart” said the sister of Mr. Den Kamlae, a land rights defender who has been missing since 16 April 2016, during a traditional ceremony held in June to mark three months since his disappearance. The family and villagers believe that local officials are involved in Den’s disappearance as a result of his activism and involvement in the community’s dispute with the national park department on land issues.