Thailand: Indigenous sea nomads threatened with guns over disputed land

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    A group of men threatened indigenous sea nomads in southern Thailand with guns in an attempt to bulldoze them out of a disputed land.

    A group of unidentified men on Sunday night, 10 July 2016, physically abused Ta Hantalae, a 42-year-old indigenous sea nomad (Chao Lay or Orang Laut), and Klahan Hantalae in Tupoh Community on Lipe Island of the southern province of Satun, Green News TV reported.

    The unknown men who claimed that they are staff of a company who owns a land which Ta’s house is located ordered Ta to demolish his house and move away from the area.

    As Ta refused to concede to the demands of the unknown men they reportedly threatened Ta and Klahan with guns and slapped the two on the faces many times in an attempt to evict them, saying that the land plot belongs to the company.

    After the incident, the sea nomad community filed the complaint to the local police station on the island.

    Green News TV reported that the police at first were reluctant to process the complaint, but accepted it after soldiers stepped in to assist the sea nomad villagers.

    The police have so far arrested five men who admitted that they physically abused the two sea nomads. However, they told the police that the abuse was not ‘serious’.

    Land disputes between sea nomads and private companies over lucrative beachfront estates occurred often in islands along the southern coasts of Thailand.

    While some companies most of whom plan to develop beachfront lands into resorts claim that they possess title deeds over some of the disputed land plots, the sea nomad communities usually claim that they lands are their ancestral land where their communities have settled for many generations.

    Source: PRACHATAI