This statement originates from the solidarity activity held at Ban Haeng, Lampang on June 9, 2016 organized by Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Protection International (PI) and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) which was attended by more than 100 villagers, the community-based Rak Ban Heng organisation and human rights defenders from nine (9) countries.
WE, the undersigned members of Asia Pacific civil society, representing different constituencies, movements and organisations, express our solidarity with the Ban Haeng community opposing the coal mine in Tambon Ban Haeng, Ngao District, Lampang and condemn the threats and harassment committed against the villagers and community organisers in the area.
Since 2010, the community members of Ban Haeng have been vocal in their opposition to the proposed coal mining project in their area. In the absence of due process and genuine community consultation, the people living and farming the area have organized into the Rak Ban Heng Conservation Group. The group aims to ensure the conservation of the forests, natural resources, the environment, community and traditional culture and values. The community is steadfast in opposing the lignite mining because of the destructive nature of the project which is expected to have a huge impact on the health and livelihood of the community.
Despite community resistance, a mining concession was granted to Green Yellow Co. Ltd. in August 2015 by the Ministry of Industry. On October 22, 2015, 386 villagers filed a complaint at the Chiang Mai Administrative Court, requesting the court to revoke the concession permit and to issue a temporary injunction against mining operations in the village. As the exploratory concession expires in August 2016, the tensions between the corporation and the State on the one hand and the community on the other continue to rise.
Various forms of intimidation, including close physical surveillance by unidentified men, harassment from military officers, threats of death and enforced disappearance have been made to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs). Among the WHRDs who have experienced harassment is Waewrin Buangern who has pending criminal complaints against her but to date has not received sufficient assistance from the Thai Justice Fund to pay for bail and legal fees.
This pattern of harassing environmental and women human rights defenders is not unique to Ban Haeng. In 2014, Southeast Asia was considered among the riskiest places to be a human rights activist, with 21 recorded killings in Thailand alone. Last week, on World Environmental Day, three United Nations Special Rapporteurs highlighted the alarming trend of targeting environmental human rights defenders “as if they were enemies of the State”. They urged states to meet their obligations to protect environmental rights, defenders and members of marginalized and vulnerable communities.
The struggle in Ban Haeng contributes to global campaigns for climate justice, energy democracy and Development Justice. The solidarity activity held in Ban Haeng amplifies the call for a feminist fossil fuel free future – a future that empowers women; a future that paves the way for redistribution of power from the elite to the many; and a future that is free from dirty energies and dirty, exploitative economies.
Lignite is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. It creates dirty, dangerous environments locally and emits high levels of carbon emissions. If we are to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels (the target set in the Paris Agreement), 80% of fossil fuel reserves must stay underground. As a result, no new fossil fuel power plants should be allowed while decentralised, locally-owned, clean and renewable energy projects should be promoted.
The event in Ban Haeng is part of the Women’s Global Call for Climate Justice where women from every region in the world are demanding climate justice now!
In solidarity with the women leaders and the villagers of Ban Haeng, we support the call of the villagers and community-based organizations to live in peace in the land they have lived in for generations and to craft their own development agenda. The people of Ban Haeng should not be deprived of their right to their lands in order to accommodate a project which has negative impacts on their livelihood and the environment.
We join the people of Ban Haeng in their efforts to protect the community’s livelihoods, local environment, and community rights to participation in public affairs. We stand with the villagers in denouncing a development agenda that is beneficial only to the elite and causes irreversible damage on the environment. We call on the Thai Government and local authorities to revoke the concession permit granted to Green Yellow Co. Ltd., to withdraw all charges against community leaders and to work with the community to achieve Development Justice.
 Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.
 The Justice Fund is a public fund used to provide legal aid and bail funds to low income defendants. It is a critical tool in advancing access to justice in Thailand but must be available to all defendants. http://thailand.prd.go.th/ewt_news.php?nid=1707&filename=index
 Damian Carington, Berta Cáceres one of hundreds of land protesters murdered in last decade, The Guardian, Mar. 4, 2016, available at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/04/berta-caceres-environmental-activists-murdered-global
 United Nations Human Rights, “A deadly undertaking” – UN experts urge all Governments to protect environmental rights defenders, Jun. 2, 2016 available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20052&LangID=E#sthash.ScrBiOOh.dpuf