Thai Tsunami Survivors Face Eviction for Tourism Project

Collection with 15 media items created by vincenzo floramo

22 Nov 2014 05:00

When a tsunami ravaged the shores of the Indian Ocean in 2004, the mangrove forest surrounding the Muslim village of Baan Nai Rai, in the province of Phang-Nga, saved most of its inhabitants even if it was one of the hardest hit areas in Thailand. Few months later, a company claimed the land where they have always lived and now plans to turn the area into a tourist resort. More than 100 people have already been displaced and 600 resist to be moved. But, above all, villagers want to protect the mangrove forest, an area that, according to Thai law, should be considered public land.

“I mainly fight for the mangrove area”, says Anun Poung Sa Nguan, a 54 year-old fisherman who has lived in the village for 30 years. “Without the mangroves, we would have to go too far away to catch the fish, because now they grow here."

“We worked very hard to take care of the mangroves, even before the tsunami," says Duk, one of the leaders of the village. We depend on them."

According to a research published by the Prince of Songkla University, the Baan Nai Rai community played a key factor in the reforestation, cultivation, protection and rehabilitation of the post-tsunami mangrove forest. Mangroves are considered an important factor for climate change adaptation and mitigation in coastal areas, especially in poor communities.

The villagers filed a lawsuit against the company but a tribunal considered in 2013 that the land was rightfully belonging to the company.

“I think this [property] document has been wrongfully obtained. This land should be public according to the law”, says Suttipong Laithip, a volunteer lawyer who is helping the villagers with the legal procedures against the company.

The Baan Nai Rai community is now trying to find additional evidences to bring again the case in court. After the 2004 tsunami, that killed more than 220.000 people in a dozen countries – 8000 of them in Thailand - the tourism sector has rapidly grown in the Phang-Nga province, where at least 14 villages were engaged in land and tenure disputes with the government and private companies one year after the disaster, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

Tsunami Thailand Muslims Phuket Tourism Development Eviction Displacement Fishing Environment Mangrove

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Tsunami 01
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

Baan Nai Rai village is one of many Thai villages hit by the tsunami in 2004. The surrounding mangroves notably reduced the impact of the waves on the area. Now villagers are trying to protect the area from turning into a tourist resort.

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Tsunami 15
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

Fisherman return late in the evening to Baan Nai Rai after a day's work.

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Tsunami 14
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

The Baan Nai Rai cemetery, located just a few meters from the sea shore, is among the most important sites for the people in the village, since their ancestors rest there. The cemetary is among the sites under threat by the tourist project.

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Tsunami 13
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
23 Nov 2014

After the 2004 tsunami, around 100 people were evicted from the village by a company that has plans to build a tourist resort in the area. Most of them were relocated a few kilometers away.

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Tsunami 12
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

A woman waits with her two children near the shore for the fishermen to return so she can start her working routine cleaning and processing the fish.

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Tsunami 11
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

Narong Sawangsup, 48, stands at the door of his new house with his 9 year-old daughter. The house was built by the company that evicted him from Baan Nai Rai village eight years ago.

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Tsunami 10
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

A styrofoam box is filled with the day's catch of a group of local fishermen.

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Title photo for the collection
Tsunami 09
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
23 Nov 2014

A fisherman works near the mangrove forest that the community of Baan Nai Rai is trying to protect from being turned into a tourist resort.

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Tsunami 08
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

A child waits for fishermen to come back on shore at Baan Nai Rai village.

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Tsunami 07
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

A dog takes watches over one of the fish farms at Baan Nai Rai village.

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Tsunami 06
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
21 Nov 2014

Small fish is processed to produce food for larger fish that are raised in enclosed farms at Baan Nai Rai village.

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Tsunami 05
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
21 Nov 2014

A woman pushes her boat to the shore at the end of the day in Baan Nai Rai village, one of the Thai villages hit by the tsunami in 2004.

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Tsunami 04
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

Fish farms set up in the lagoon near Baan Nai Rai are one of the villages principal sources of food and income.

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Tsunami 03
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

A local fisherman comes back to shore after a day working at sea in Baan Nai Rai village, one of the Thai villages hit by the tsunami in 2004. The area is a mangrove forest that has been targeted by a company that wants to turn it into a tourist resort.

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Tsunami 02
Phuket, Thailand
By vincenzo floramo
22 Nov 2014

A tsunami hazard sign stands in warning at the entrance of the Muslim village of Baan Nai Rai.