- Posted September 6, 2013 by
Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand
Despite rubber riots, Thai Gov't reaches breakthrough
For the past few weeks, south Thailand has seen hundreds of plantation farmers blocking public roads and railways in the attempt to pressure the Government to give into their grievances of what was primarily low price for crude rubber.
Deputy Prime Minister Pracha was able to secure an agreement with many farmers in accepting the selling price of rubber at 90 baht per kg, however some groups have rejected the negotiation results and instead demanded for 95 baht/kg. Before the discussions, the farmer groups had set 120 baht per kg as benchmark.
Violence erupted, initially among inter-rival groups of farmers and on the morning of Friday the police were forced to fire tear gas at the demonstrators, which saw repeated retaliation from the demonstrators who launched giant firecrackers, explosives, rocks and containers filled with acid at the law enforcers. At least 23 policemen and 5 farmers were injured as a result.
A 51-year-old local resident who witnessed the clash, Mr. Suchat said "They wanted to protest but why don't they do (it) peacefully? Why must they attack policemen who are here to protect us from the violent mob?"
While 3 cars belonging to journalists were burned by demonstrators, five firearms from a police vehicle were stolen during the confrontation.
The Government has repeatedly called for calm and is keen to have all parties resort to the negotiation table rather than commit acts of violence which is a violation of the country's laws and Government's belief in peaceful assembly.
Thailand is the world’s biggest rubber producer and exporter with around 90 percent of its output heading overseas. The protests have disrupted distribution systems and delayed thousands of metric tons of Thai rubber shipments.
"We have worked the farms for many seasons and we have our problems but the protesters must realize that they are being led by corrupted politicians who are interested to ignite social unrest and these criminal leaders who are in the fuel smuggling business." Suchat said on Friday evening after returning from his small farm.
Suchat seems disturbed after the rioting as he is convinced that the "mob" stems from organized crime in the Deep South.
"I hope they go away so we can continue work and feed our families."