Thailand: Members of the Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT) face violence and evictions amid land disputes with palm oil companies
The Santi Pattana Community is one of the five members of the Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT) in the Bang Sawan Sub-District of Phra Sang District, Surat Thani Province. In 2006, the communities seized an area of land in the Bang Sawan SubDistrict, which had formerly been under concession to several companies, in order to allocate it to landless farmers and peasants. This land included an area previously under concession to the United Palm Oil Industry Public Co. Ltd (UPOIC), where the Santi Pattana community established itself. Since 2003, the primary shareholder of UPOIC has been Lam Soon Public Limited Company. The Santi Pattana Community and UPOIC have been involved in legal struggles over the disputed land. On 20 October 2020, land rights defender and member of SPFT Mr Dam Onmuang survived an attempted murder while on guard duty at the community's security checkpoint, by an individual believed to be affiliated with UPOIC.
Local groups report various other cases of violence against SPFT members and land rights defenders, while Thai authorities reportedly fail to end culture of impunity. Several members of the SPFT have been assassinated or intimidated: Mr Somporn Phatphum was killed in 2010, Mrs Pranee Boonrak and Mr Monta Chukaew were killed in 2012. Mr Chai Bunthonglek, involved in a land dispute with the palm oil company Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co. Ltd., was killed in 2015. In the same year, Mr Pianrat Boonrit, involved in a land dispute with Thaibuanthong Oil Palm Company, was threatened and detained.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited UPOIC to respond to the allegations regarding their involvement in the attempted murder of Mr Onmuang; they did not respond.