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Hmong move to ease rift with lowlanders: Inquiry sought into raids on orchards

September 19, 2000

Hmong leaders have submitted an 11-point demand to provincial authorities to settle a prolonged dispute between their members and lowlanders.

Hmong tribespeople have been engaged in a conflict over land with local people in Chiang Klang district.

The dispute escalated after Hmong houses and lychee plantations in tambon Pa Klang were raided by rival lowlanders.

The tribespeople suspected local government officials might be backing the actions of lowlanders, who accuse the Hmong of encroaching on Nam Peua and Nam Kon forests for cultivation.

Suradet Yangsaeng, the kamnan of tambon Pa Klang and a leading Hmong figure, said tribespeople have called on provincial authorities to settle the dispute.

The group has demanded an investigation into the motive for the raids on Hmong villagers' houses and fruit orchards on June 19 and Aug 2;

- Assistance be provided to tribespeople whose orchards were destroyed;

- Action be taken against those who instigated the unrest;

- Nobody be allowed to enter the destroyed lychee plantations pending the investigation;

- Security measures be beefed up for tribespeople;

- Measures be mapped out to write off the affected tribespeople's debts;

- Provincial authorities to closely monitor the conduct of government and local officials in Chiang Klang to prevent them from taking sides with lowlanders;

- Concerned agencies urgently solve the land conflict between the lowlanders and tribespeople;

- A neutral committee be set up to take those behind the raids to task;

- Compensation be paid to the affected tribesmen; and

- A rehabilitation scheme be launched in tambon Pa Klang.

Wuthipong Srisilp Nan