The residents filed their request in Bangkok yesterday (Jan 23) for the agency to produce maps of their community dating back to 1951 so the residents can to use them in a legal battle against a man who claims to already own more than 300 rai of land they live on, the Bangkok Post reports today. (See story here.)
Three hundred and twenty-six residents of the Pracha Samakkee community are facing legal suits filed against them by the man – 26 of them had never made use of the land before, said community representative Weerayut Jaesoh.
The villagers formed the community about a decade ago, assuming the land was vacant after a tin mine concession expired, he said.
Ever since, the land has been being used for farming and keeping livestock, he added.
Each of the 326 villagers is now facing one or two lawsuits filed against them by a claimant to the land, Mr Weerayut said.
The man who says he owns the land said he has been using about 297 rai of the plot as a coconut and nipa palm plantation since 1951, which was before the Land Code took effect, Mr Weerayut said.
That was also before the tin mining concession was granted on the plot, he said.
The claimant was previously embroiled in a dispute with the tin-mining concessionaire, which ended up in a court battle, he said.
The claimant eventually won the case in a Supreme Court ruling, Mr Weerayut said.
After the court victory, the claimant used the court ruling as evidence to support his fresh lawsuits, still being pursued, to evict the 326 people from the land, Mr Weerayut said.
In 2005, the Muang District Office in Phuket declared the land to be vacant, he said.
This prompted more people to move into the community, he added.
Roads were constructed, a water supply system was installed and electricity was laid on for the Pracha Samakkee Community community, he said.
Even a church and a mosque was built at the village.
Pol Lt Col Woranan Srilam, a DSI specialist who received the petition from the residents n Bangkok yesterday, said the evidence that had been received so far was only a copy of the Supreme Court's ruling.
The DSI will study the evidence before it decides what kind of help or advice it might provide to this group, Col Woranan said.
Mr Wirayut also said that he and Pracha Samakkee Community village chief Surasak Tainapreaw were both facing up to four lawsuits – one criminal and three civil actions.
More than 100 local residents from the Pracha Samakkee Community massed at Phuket Provincial Hall in December 2017 to call for help with the forced evictions.
At the gathering, a formal written request for assistance was handed Phuket Vice Governor Prakob Wongmaneerung.
“In November this year, we received information that a group of people claimed that the land was inherited. Some local residents were sued and expelled from the land. Notices were sent to us stating that a court order had been obtained by the Phuket Land Office and that they were to measure the land boundary together with the plaintiff and local residents who were being sued,” Mr Surasak explained at the time.
“I am calling for help from government offices to help us as we are now in trouble. We lived here for a long time because we believed that the land belonged to the government,” Mr Surasak noted.
V/Gov Prakob said after receiving the letter, “I will hand this complaint to relevant offices to check. However, the court order must be followed to measure the land boundary for the disputed land map. Relevant offices will give fairness for everyone involved in such land issues.” (See story here.)