UN human rights experts urge UNESCO not to grant World Heritage status to a national park Thailand, They said the indigenous people were arrested and expelled from their traditional lands.
A UN expert said in a statement: “This is an important precedent that may affect policies on how to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in protected areas in Asia.
They said: “The indigenous Karen people in the national park continue to be forcibly evicted and their houses burned down.”
The independent expert’s appeal was made before Monday’s review Unesco Committee, the Thai government has sought the heritage status of Kaeng Krachan National Park for the third time since 2016.
According to their joint proposal, China and Russia are among the countries that support Thailand’s bid. The proposal does not mention the Karen community living in the vast park near the Myanmar border.
The UN expert’s statement stated that more than 80 Karen people have been arrested this year, and 28 of them have been criminally charged for “occupying” park land, including a child.
It added that there was no “good faith” negotiation to allow the Karen people to participate in the UNESCO nomination process.
Thai officials did not immediately comment on the experts’ concerns that the heritage status will deprive the Karen people of the right to stay on traditional land, and their farming techniques help protect biodiversity.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature stated that UNESCO should postpone the naming of the park as a World Heritage Site. The Swiss-based organization stated that the Thai government should show support for the plan by all affected indigenous peoples by providing land tenure and livelihood security.