MAY 01, 2018 05:26 PM PDT

Chiang Mai rallies for the forest

Roughly 1,250 people gathered in the Thai city of Chiang Mai wearing green ribbons to protest the construction of a luxury housing development on forested land. The development is located close to a mountain, Doi Suthep, that locals say is sacred, calling it the “natural lung” for the city. The development will house judges, high-up officials, and other elites.

Though authorities say the land belongs to the government and does not enter the national park that surrounds the mountain, local communities and environmental activists say that a sacred temple lays on the disputed land. However, construction has been underway since 2015 and following the Bangkok Post, the development is already mostly completed; approximately $32 million was spent on the project thus far.

These elaborate steps lead to the entrance of the Doi Suthep Buddhist temple. Photo: Daily Travel Photos

The protesters have demanded that the development be demolished within one week, or else they will continue to protest. However, The Guardian reported that “officials said protesters could face legal action if the housing was demolished and that the homes should be used for 10 years before the public could reassess any environmental impact”.

The protest in itself was a big hurrah, considering that the junta that took power of Thailand in 2014 following a coup, imposed a ban on public gatherings of more than five people. Since then, the junta “...has largely curbed freedom of expression through various orders and used military and police forces to block public gatherings,” according to the Guardian.

Police Colonel Paisan, deputy commander of Chiang Mai Police, stated: “The protesters were focused on environmental issues and not politics, and they cleaned the street afterwards." He explained that the reason the protest was allowed to occur was that the organizers had gone through the proper requirements to request a public gathering.

Yet, there is more than just an act of environmental advocacy going on here. The Japan Times reported that the housing development has become a point of contention because of the underlying inequalities between classes in the country. Thai officials and elites often receive special treatment and the majority of the Thai people are fed up with this injustice. “We want the demolition of the houses and a return of the forest,” said the rally’s organizers in a statement over the weekend. “Bring back the forest to Doi Suthep. Bring back the forest to people.”

Many gathered to protest the housing development, showing their support with green ribbons. Photo: The Nation

Sources: The Guardian, BBC News, The Japan Times
 

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 17, 2018
Videos
DEC 17, 2018
The 15 year-old who is taking the world by a storm
Fifteen-year-old environmental justice activist Greta Thunberg from Sweden took the climate talks at the COP24 summit by the horns with her barely over thr...
DEC 29, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 29, 2018
Fish ear bones track coal ash contamination
Coal ash contamination is a public health threat across the United States. Coal ash refers to the toxic remains of coal burning in power plants. The chemic...
JAN 01, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 01, 2019
Recent Tsunami in Indonesia Sparks Fear for the Critically-Endangered Javan Rhino
Indonesia’s Javan Rhino is one of the most elusive rhino species in the world. With just 63-67 of the animals still alive today, the International Un...
JAN 06, 2019
Earth & The Environment
JAN 06, 2019
What the government shutdown has meant for national parks
National parks are suffering greatly due to the recent government shutdown, which began on December 22 as a result of disagreement between President Trump ...
JAN 09, 2019
Videos
JAN 09, 2019
Researchers Create a Sustainable Plastic From Seaweed-eating Microbes
Plastic is a major pollutant that is contaminating our waterways and oceans. Researchers have now found a way to create bioplastic from microbes....
JAN 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 23, 2019
Researchers Quantify How Much Rainforest Cover Cameroon Can Lose Before Birds Suffer
When it comes to animal conservation, habitat protection is often one of the critical ingredients of success. That said, it should come as no surprise that...
Loading Comments...