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Article

Thailand: Female activists face danger fighting Govt's forest reclamation policy while conservation land are given as concessions to large corporations

"For Thailand's female land rights defenders, activism is a dangerous and daunting necessity", 2 February 2020

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...[M]ore women living in rural areas have joined the fight for land rights in Thailand – amid the spectre of intimidation and the threat of jail time or even being killed for their activism....

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Thailand's forest reclamation policy, passed in 2014, aimed to increase forest cover.... It was targeted at businesses and commercial investors operating in the country, with the poor and landless meant to be exempt – but rights groups say that, in practice, small-scale farmers are being evicted in the name of environmental protection.

Thai NGOs estimate that at least 8,000 households have been threatened with eviction since 2015. Meanwhile, Thailand's ruling junta has in the past five years given away around 999 hectares of forest conservation land as concessions to large corporations, including cement and mining companies, according to Land Watch Thai.

...United Nations special rapporteurs...expressed their concern that Thailand was misusing the forest reclamation policy. In a letter to the government, the UN said Muangklang's prosecution "appears to be a result of her work as a community leader", and pointed out that the eviction of the Ban Sap Wai farmers might violate their human rights.

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Being a female advocate for land rights in Thailand is a dangerous calling. In 2012, female activists Montha Chukaew and Pranee Boonnak were brutally killed. Since 2014, 225 female human rights defenders from Thailand's rural areas have been subjected to judicial harassment...70 per cent of these activists are land rights defenders accused of encroaching on national parks and other lands.