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Protesters ‘staying’ till problems solved

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LAND RIGHTS demonstrators said they were satisfied by feedback from yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, but have decided to extend their protest in Bangkok to make sure their problems are fully resolved.

A mobile Cabinet meeting at Buriram Rajabhat University yesterday reportedly discussed the issues and demands of the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) protesters and ordered every related ministry to address their problems.
Jamnong Nu-phan, a prominent P-Move member, said the group was pleased with the outcome of the Cabinet meeting.
However, the activists would continue their peaceful demonstration in Bangkok at least until the end of this month, he added, to ensure authorities followed up with action.
“It is understandable that authorities must follow steps in taking action, so we accept official procedures and will wait to see how each ministry will solve our problems,” he said. “Meanwhile we will extend our stay in Bangkok to make sure our problems are not forgotten.” 
 Jamnong said a P-Move meeting was planned for last night to discuss the issue.
He insisted, however, that the protest would not join the mass rally against the military government by the Democracy Restoration Group at Government House on May 22, as P-Move had a clear goal to mitigate the problems of the poor and wished to steer clear of politics.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that it was impossible for the government to heed everyone’s problems and urged the protesters not to ask for too much.
“The government is working hard to solve the problems of the poor people, as we are rushing actions on what we can do now, which will take around two weeks, as we have to comply with the rules and regulations,” Prayut said.
He said that the responsibility for addressing these issues lay with the National Land Policy Committee, which allocates land for the landless, adding that more than one million rai in 60 provinces had already been handed out, but there was a problem of how to distribute limited land to millions of landless people. Meanwhile, P-Move protesters are still expressing doubts about the authorities’ sincerity, concerned that concrete solutions to their problems may never materialise.
“We want at least an assurance from the Cabinet that our problems are not ignored. Until then we will continue our demonstration in Bangkok, as we have nothing to lose,” said protester Nulek Sammida.
“We came here demanding an end to our problems and we will die here fighting for our rights rather than go back home to find that our land still does not belong to us.”
Nulek is from one of 56 families from Ban Thung Luilai in Chaiyaphum suffering under a dispute stemming from the Royal Forest Department and NCPO’s forest reclamation campaign. She said that her community has been campaigning to recover the rights to their land for two decades.
“I myself have come to Bangkok to protest on this same issue countless times, but nothing has been done to resolve our problem,” she said.
“Our problems got worse under the NCPO, as it has imposed hostile policies toward public activism, while also doing nothing to solve the problems of the poor and landless people.”

Published : May 08, 2018

By : PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE NATION