MAY 01, 2018 5:26 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
SEP 03, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Falling mite populations warn of global diversity crash
SEP 03, 2020
Falling mite populations warn of global diversity crash
Researchers from the University of Queensland have conducted the first-ever global mite biodiversity study and their fin ...
SEP 07, 2020
Neuroscience
Researchers Identify 5 Kinds of Cat Owners
SEP 07, 2020
Researchers Identify 5 Kinds of Cat Owners
Conservationists have long been concerned about the number of animals caught by domestic cats. In the US alone, estimate ...
OCT 07, 2020
Earth & The Environment
The conversion of the Amazon rainforest into savanna may be on the horizon
OCT 07, 2020
The conversion of the Amazon rainforest into savanna may be on the horizon
More dim news from the Amazon: more of the rainforest is at risk of becoming a savanna than previously believed. The fin ...
OCT 09, 2020
Plants & Animals
Humpback Whales Thriving in NYC Waters
OCT 09, 2020
Humpback Whales Thriving in NYC Waters
Over the past decade, humpback whales have become increasingly common in waters known as the New York-New Jersey Bight. ...
OCT 20, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Why the Weddell Sea is warming five times faster than the rest of the ocean
OCT 20, 2020
Why the Weddell Sea is warming five times faster than the rest of the ocean
New research published in the Journal of Climate finds that the Weddell Sea in Antarctica is warming five times fas ...
NOV 23, 2020
Plants & Animals
Can Kelp Help Reduce Acidification in the Ocean?
NOV 23, 2020
Can Kelp Help Reduce Acidification in the Ocean?
Our oceans are becoming more acidic; their pH is going down as they absorb CO2 from Earth's atmosphere. It's thought tha ...
Loading Comments...