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Karen People of Kaeng Krachan Park

What is affected
Housing private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 15 February 1961
Region A [ Asia ]
Country Thailand
Location Kaeng Krachan National Park

Affected persons

Total 450
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Details CERD_Thailand_9_03_2012.pdf


Forced eviction
Housing losses
- Number of homes 90
- Total value

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

National Park & Forestry Authority
Brief narrative

Thailand: Indigenous People Penalised for Carrying out Traditional Practices

For decades, indigenous peoples have been forcibly evicted and relocated from their lands on grounds of national security, development and resource conservation. In the north, smaller mountain-dwelling ethnic groups, including Akha, Hmong, Karen, Lahu, Lisu and Mein, struggle to survive economically and culturally in the face of development projects, land-ownership issues and the influx of ethnic Thais.

In July [2011], officials at Kaeng Krachan National Park, Phetchaburi province, stormed and burned a total of 90 homes and rice barns in a Karen village. Officials justified this as a means to prevent forest destruction, even though it is the constitutional right of these Karen to reside in the forests, as they have been on the land for generations. Many of the families remain displaced, some reportedly hiding in the forest without sufficient food or shelter.

On 3 September, Tatkamol Ob-om, a Karen community activist brought the case to the National Human Rights Commission. He was shot and killed on 10 September. A warrant was issued for the arrest of the park director Chaiwat Limlikitauksorn, who later turned himself into police, denying the charges. He has since been released on bail and has retained his role as park head, still justifying his violent evictions of the Karen village.

Forest officials have blamed Karen traditional swidden agriculture – pejoratively known as ‘slash and burn’ – for contributing to forest degradation and global warming. From 2005 to 2011, 38 cases of ‘global warming’ were brought against Thailand’s indigenous forest-dwelling peoples, nine of which have been settled resulting in fines of over 18 million baht.


Forcible Eviction of Karen People from Kaeng Krachan National Park by the State

of Thailand

48. For more than a decade, the Government of Thailand, and specifically the national park and forestry authority, have been attempting the forcible eviction of Karen indigenous people from the Kaeng Krachan National Park (“KKNP”). These evictions have resulted in numerous violent and discriminatory human rights abuses.

49.The forcible evictions may even be linked to the murder of Karen human rights defender Tatkamol Ob-om who was shot on 10 September 2011 after helping one of the victims petition the Thai National Human Rights Commission. These evictions continue despite a clear legal framework which protects the rights of the Karen people to remain on their ancestral lands and continue their traditional cultivation system.

50. Much of the conflict between the Karen and the Thai State began in 1961, when a part of the Karen people’s ancestral lands were declared to be part of KKNP by way of the National Park Act. Since this time, the State has relied on many arguments to legitimise the forcible eviction of the Karen people, from claiming that the cultivation techniques they use are damaging to the environment to arguing that the evictions are necessary for national security, to claiming that the evictees are involved in the drug trade or arguing that the Karen are not even of Thai decent. These arguments do not withstand scrutiny.

51.The most recent involuntary eviction occurred in July 2011. During this attack national park guards burned the homes and food supplies of the Karen, stole valuables, killed livestock and forced villagers to flee. The Head of the KKNP, Mr. Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, claimed that these latest evictions were undertaken against undocumented migrants from Myanmar, rather than Karen indigenous people. It was further argued that even if the evictees had been indigenous people, the evictions would still have been lawful because the Forestry Law prohibits anyone from occupying the park.

52. Evidence from this incident indicates that the evictees were indeed Thai by birth and decent. Further, sections 66 and 67 of the 2007 Thai Constitution provide for the right of Thai people to remain in protected areas, such as KKNP, as long as it can be proven that their people occupied the land before its establishment and demarcation. Moreover, the Cabinet Resolution, adopted on August 3rd 2010, specifically affirmed the rights of the Karen people to remain on their land and to continue their cyclical farming pattern.

53. Article 10 of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples emphatically

denounces the use of forcible eviction and requires that the voluntary, informed consent of indigenous peoples be given before any relocation occurs. Thailand has endorsed this Declaration. A request for the consideration of this situation was submitted by several indigenous peoples and human rights groups, CSOs and NGOs in February 2012. The situation of the Karen people was then considered under the early warning urgent action (EW/UA) procedure at the Committee’s 80th session. After such consideration, the Committee then expressed its concern, in a letter dated March 9th 2012, to the government of Thailand, requesting to know the steps that had been taken to improve the situation of the Karen people.

54. Today there are still internally displaced members of the Karen tribe. After being forcibly evicted from their homes and relocated, they now live in unfamiliar surroundings and often in substandard living conditions. The Committee should again turn its attention to this matter.

UN Committee expresses concern about violence against Karen people in Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National Park

26 Mar 2012

GENEVA – UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination has expressed concern regarding forceful eviction and harassment of Karen indigenous people from Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National Park and requested the government to provide information on their situation in the park.

The Committee sent a letter sent to the Permanent Mission of Thailand to the UN on 9 March 2012 in response to the information submitted by a non-governmental organization.

According to the information, the Committee writes, an increasing level of violence has been committed against the Karen people by the Thai National Park and Forestry Authorities despite existing laws protecting the rights of the Karen people to live in national parks and other forest areas. They point out that laws such as the Thai Cabinet Resolution of 3rd August 2010 (on the restoration of traditional practices and livelihoods of Karen people) categorically provide them with the right to remain in ancestral lands and practice traditional agricultural rotation.

The Committee is further concerned that the reported continuous and escalating violence may have been linked to the murder of Karen human rights defender Mr Tatkamol Ob-om on 10 September 2011. He filed a petition to the Thai National Human Rights Commission on behalf of Karen people and was subsequently shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

The Committee requests the Thai government to provide information regarding the situation of the indigenous peoples in the national park and the measures taken to improve their situation by 31 July 2012.


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