08 November 2008

The Right to Lease

Living on land that isn’t really yours, or being denied access to fair and simple human needs such as water and electricity, or knowing that your education can’t be furthered only on the basis that you don’t have a paper for legal housing registration are common problems for many inhabitants of the slums in Khon kaen, Thailand. The poor poverty levels and bad hygiene lead to poor health, however adequate health is not provided to these citizens of Thailand on the mere fact that they do not posses housing registration because they do not have leasing rights.

Many villagers in Khon kaen have been protesting and fighting to get leasing rights. A couple weeks ago the villagers in aid with the four regions Slums Network marched on the streets of khon Kaen and self delivered letters to the mayor in order to grant them leasing rights. Some communities were successful whereas the others continue to fight. Many of the communities that that received leasing rights we also involved on a big march in Bangkok a few weeks prior to the march in khon kaen. Many community members of the slums say that they will continue fighting till the bitter end.

Take for example, Paw Gahn, he said, “The motivation that keeps me fighting is our children and grandchildren who are living on the land that we have invaded. They will not have any security in life because the land that we are living on does not belong to us. I have been fighting in order to be able to rent this land and make it more secure. Paw Gahn has been fighting for his community; he is 70 years old and still fights with great vigor. He is not sure what the future of this community entails but he wants to live in a secure community and in order to make a community secure people must come together in harmony. He says that, “Happiness will eventually happen if people are living in harmony.”

Like Paw Gahn, there are many. They hope to see their community’s become a place of peace. They want security. They understand that they are intruding on land that isn’t theirs however, they recognize that and want to rent the land so they can be given a housing registration because without such, many social services from the state are denied, limited and or have inflated prices. They believe that they have a right to fair prices on water and electricity and a fair opportunity in education and healthcare. They pay taxes for purchased goods thus they should at least be treated and cared for as a citizen of the nation.

The community members don’t want to leave their lands they have been living there all their life. Their parents died there and they were born there and it is legacy that remains in these communities. They love their neighbors and enjoy community interaction. They don’t want to leave but, they are conscientious of the fact that they are do not own the land that they are living on and because of that they want to be on the right path and lease the land. They want to do things right. That is why they continue fighting for leasing rights until it is granted and they can have equal access to public services. They will do what they have to, to reach the goal

Sara Saavedra - Hope College


Danielle Litt said...

The struggles for peace, security, education, electricity, clean water, heath care, land, food, and justice are struggles that are taking place around the world. The struggles that I have read about in your blog are similar to the struggles that I have witnessed here in Mexico. The fact that some have more than they could ever possibly need, and others are just struggling for basic human needs, is one of the biggest disparities in our world today, it is one of our biggest injustices in our world today. I hope that those whom you write about protesting, and those who I have witnessed protesting, are successful in bringing a little more justice and a little less inequality into our world.

Elisabeth-Amy said...

No health care, but cant get health care with out land ownership??? why are humans pushed into these spaces where there is no way to get out? Your blogg makes me think about different communities in the world that have squatters, (Brazil for example) is that what this community is doing? I think squatters have an absolute right to demand what land is theirs, and i and glad that you talked about this in your post

sara.saavedra said...

Recent update:
The urban committee under direction of Maa Malion went to Bangkok and talked with SRT, the land owners in which the squatter’s reside, and successfully obtained an MOU with SRT. The only down side is that the MOU only gives the villagers 2 weeks to go to Bangkok and obtain leases with SRT or else SRT opens up that land for sale. There are many big corporations willing to pay a higher price for the land and are ready to prey for the land. The problem is that is whole “I got an MOU, and you can now go down and get leasing, but do it quick” deal has been going on for a while, therefore many villagers do not believe it anymore, but this time it seems to be something serious, it seems like something is actually going to happen. We have the ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario. The issue at hand can really impact and form how this plays out for all or if not many slums in Thailand.

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