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Military called in as Phuket sea gypsies injured in land claim clash

PHUKET: Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat has ordered a security detail to maintain peace at the sea gypsy community in Rawai after several villagers were injured in clashes with private workers hired to clear the area for private development this morning (Jan 27).

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Wednesday 27 January 2016, 05:16PM

Military personnel led by Lt Col Sompop Kamkana of the Royal Thai Navy secured the area at about 11:30am, while V/Gov Chokdee and Rawai Mayor Aroon Solos spoke with villagers.

When they arrived, rescue workers were busy transporting villagers injured in the clashes to medical facilities nearby.

More than 200 villagers, including women and children, had gathered at the site, where officials were told that that the fight broke when more than 100 workers started to clear the land with a backhoe and excavators.

Villagers attempted to stop the workers from using an excavator from placing rocks to block off the entrance to the land, which resulted in the workers and villagers trading blows.

Chatree Madsatun, the legal representative of Baron World Trade Co Ltd, which claims to own the land, said the company had full rights to the land and had a Chanote land title deed to prove it.

“The Phuket Provincial Land Office conducted a survey of the area on August 13 last year and confirmed at an official meeting that the company had full right to the land, and there many meetings have been held to discuss this matter, but most of the time representatives from the village failed to attend,” he said.

The company built a wall to prevent sea gypsies from trespassing on the land, but the wall was pulled down on June 20, 2015. Large rocks were then placed there to keep villagers out, he explained.

Mr Chatree confirmed that the company will pay all medical expenses for the villagers injured in the clashes.

V/G Chokdee launched an inquest into the incident.

“Officers will stand by to provide security for the villagers until the committee concludes their investigation,” he said.

Military personnel arrived at the disputed site yesterday (Jan 26), though at that time reportedly to ensure that the workers were not impeded from clearing the land. (See story here.)

Meanwhile at Provincial Hall this morning, more than 200 sea gypsies arrived to present a formal request to Deputy Prime Minister Admiral Narong Pipatanasai to resolve the dispute.

The delegation of sea gypsies urged the government to revoke any documents found to support illegitimate claims to land in their community,

They also asked for the central government to investigate why soldiers had refused villagers access to the area and were providing security for a private company.

Sinchai Rupraochin, from the “Phuket Justice for the Poor Network”, also explained that preventing the sea gypsies from accessing the disputed land had cut off access to a sacred place of worship that the sea gypsies had used for generations.

It also denied them direct to access to the sea, he said.

“Us villagers have been bullied by the landowner’s people,” said sea gypsy spokesman Nirandon Yongpan.

“They took public land reserved for sea gypsies and got a Chanote. This has upset more than 2,000 villagers, and if the government does not intervene soon, sea gypsies will lose their land to a private company.”



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Richard Vickers | 31 January 2016 - 01:39:55

OK OK... I have just finished eating my heaping plate full of crow, and I'm now choking down my big thick slice of humble pie. I am very happy with the DSI findings, as I loathe and despise the punk-ass thuggery of these greedy developers. Also, I'll admit that my assertions about the Sea Gypsies was based on a single visit to the area, where I saw a bunch of fat and lazy people sitting ar...

Joe12 | 30 January 2016 - 20:05:58

Like I say Christy... dont read it (comments). Well, yes it is necessary to comment on bigotted, defamatory, ill-informed comments - (call it what you like). If someone belittles a section of the community; gives inaccurate conclusions with little or no aforethought it behoves anyone to respond accordingly.  That's what democracy is all about. Having said that, I respect anyone&#...

Christy K.Sweet | 30 January 2016 - 08:06:12

Joe 12, But I have to read it to decide if I don't like it. Actually,  I cannot- not read. Once I see text, it's already read. But really, is all the sniping and one-up-cockmanship at all necessary? That's what the other discussion forums offer, this is a news website.

Joe12 | 29 January 2016 - 17:44:56

Richard, you haven't explained anything, just bigotted self indulgience about a particular section of society. Obviously you don't want to listen, so it may be difficult for you, but make yourself aware of International Law. Your ignorance is rather disturbing and your conclusions that you pass off as informed comments are way off the planet.

Joe12 | 29 January 2016 - 17:29:12

Christy...if you don\'t like what you read, it\'s simple..dont read it.

Christy K. Sweet | 29 January 2016 - 07:59:26

Arghhh...The Phuket News comment section is turning into Thai Visa Forum. Please, online editors, stop posting the pissing contest jibes. 

And Les, it ain't just the island but further comment is self-censored.

LES | 29 January 2016 - 02:42:07

Avarice raises its ugly head again.
Big business and powerful famililies rule the island.
Maybe the last paragraph of the article raises an encroachment issue of public land which if true is therefore illegal and requires investigation ?
I hope the sea gypsies get some kind of justice and some land to survive, after all they have been residents a long time.   

Richard Vickers | 29 January 2016 - 01:51:26

Come on Joey, you said I should "consider or find out why people behave in the manner in which you allegedly describe". The reason why they all behave they way they are (both sides) is explained already. The gypsies lay claim to land just because their ancestors landed there a long time ago. They don't improve the land (in fact they trash it) and no longer carry on traditional Thai w...

Joe12 | 28 January 2016 - 20:17:20

Instead of rubbishing people Richard, consider or find out why people behave in the manner in which you allegedly describe. From what I observe, everyone behaves in the manner you describe.

Instead of being negative - "nothing is going to come of this conflict" - think of the positive and take a leading role in sorting out the land problems instead of mouthing off and condeming everyo...

Christy K. Sweet | 28 January 2016 - 08:02:14

" Why[are]soldiers are providing security for a private firm?" Good question. 

Richard Vickers | 27 January 2016 - 23:09:35

Well, I'm not a big fan of lazy bums with a ridiculous claim of entitlement that sit around throwing trash throughout the community...which is what I have seen in this sea gypsiy camp.  However, I am even less of a fan of these developer thugs that send in their punk ass hit men to exact violence on these poor people (even if they are mostly lazy bums).  As I mentioned already...nothing good i...

yvonne | 27 January 2016 - 19:37:24

Wonder when this Chanote was granted? I remember the Sea Gypseys from 16 years ago on that land when my Son lived in a Bungalow at Chantra( was destroyed by Tsunami) just past the Police Station on the left right on the beach front is where they stayed. We often used to pop into Nikita for a Lunch at the other end not far from the Village. Rawai was  so lovely then and not developed and Nai Harn j...

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