Reclaiming Rights in Forests - Struggles of Indigenous Peoples in Thailand

Publisher: IWGIA & Highland Peoples Taskforce (HPT) Thailand
Author: Kalpata Dutta (Asia Institute for Human Rights) & Pornpen Khongkachonkiet (Cross Cultural Foundation)
Number of pages: 62
ISBN number: 978-974-16-5488-8
Publication language: English
Country publication is about: Thailand
Region publication is about: Asia
Financially supported by: Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Release year: 2008

Tags: Human rights

Preface: Indigenous peoples who have been residing in Thailand for years face many violations of their human rights. They have been subjected to racial discrimination. They face prejudice and are looked down upon by the society. They are labeled as drug traffickers, people who cause deforestation and are considered threats to national security. They are forcibly evicted from their dwellings in the forests and are subjected to abusive behavior, extortion, arbitrary detention and are excluded from accessing natural resources.

Indigenous peoples in Thailand have almost no power to struggle against the other forces. They are not able to advance on the road to justice. The road to justice is complex, costly and full of obstacles. This rough road to justice does not originate at the point the peoples got arrested - but much before – with the enactment of discriminatory laws and policies and their enforcement and implementation.
 
Today the indigenous peoples still have their dignity and rights because of our struggles. Throughout history the indigenous peoples have together fought and campaigned for the recognition of their demands and created a space for negotiation with the authorities. Many of us have faced threats of being under surveillance, killed or arrested. Many of them were extra judicially killed during the ‘war on drugs’. And we have learnt that we have to protest and launch demonstrations to make our voices heard and to counter state power.
 
This book is a documentation of human rights violations against indigenous peoples in the north of Thailand. It also tries to present the root cause of these violations. The existing system of laws and policies provides opportunities to the authorities to abuse or misuse their powers in this Buddhist land of peace. The book reflects on the facts gathered from the real stories of the people. The voices of the indigenous peoples help in providing a better understanding of the issues. It also hoped that these voices will be our conscience and guide us in our efforts to ensure that indigenous peoples no more face violations of their rights.
 
Wiwat Tamee
Coordinator of Highland Peoples Taskforce (HPT)
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