S. Sivaraksa

The Criminal Court Judgment
December 18, 2006, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Engaged Spirituality, Environment, Human Rights, Non-Violence

People and a Pipeline

Kanchanaburi public prosecutor (Thong Paphoom) V. Sulak Sivaraksa

For violation of the Thai Petroleum Act BE 2522 (1979)

The court has been informed that on 7 May 1996, the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) was authorized to undertake the construction of natural gas pipelines from the Yadana source in Burma through the Thailand-Burma border into Thailand at Ban I-tong, Tambon Pilok, Thong Paphoom district, Kanchanaburi province toward the Ratchaburi combined cycle power plant in Muang district, Ratchaburi province. But between 2-6 March 1998, during day and night successively, the accused and about 30 others camped out in the forest to obstruct the construction of the pipelines. They stood in rows and sat in groups to make the operation of the machines impossible. Thus, they were accused for violating the laws which provided for the rights of PTT to continue their construction.

The accused refused to accept the charge. He informed the judges that as a law graduate he believes in the Constitution and cherishes the constitutional monarchy. Among many in Siam, he has been revered as a conservationist who has made immense contribution to history, social development, economics, politics, culture, archeology and the environment. Apart from his extensive writings, lectures or public speeches, the accused has been endeavoring to work to preserve ancient buildings and the environment all along. Being informed about the Thailand-Burma gas pipeline project, he deemed the project had been pushed ahead by PTT with support from the Thai government without heeding to public opinions. The government, by refusing to hear voices from the people, was pressing ahead a project that would cause massive damages to the national interests, economically and politically, within and outside the country. The damages would also reach the environment, forests, fauna, etc. With this concern and the care for nature and the environment, the accused has been opposed to deforestation, destruction of the environment, particularly, in pristine forests of Kanchanaburi province. Therefore, the opposition waged by the accused toward the construction of the natural gas pipeline rests on the fervent hope to protect national interests at present and in future. It can be regarded as a sincere, honest, peaceful and nonviolent action and this right and freedom has been exercised duly under the provisions in the Constitution.

The accused further argued that the Petroleum Act BE 2522 (1979), which had been cited by the plaintiff to bring charges against him is unlawful in light of the current Constitution. The law grants draconian powers to PTT to bring charges against anyone who decide to obstruct their operation. However, with the attempts by the government to corporatize PTT, new legislations have been issued in recent years and that has led to the revocation of the PTT Act. In addition, the new laws mulled for the governing of the corporatized PTT bear no punitive clauses. Therefore, the PTT Act can no longer be cited as a ground to punish anyone who obstructs the operation by PTT.

The judges are therefore of the opinion that the accused is found not guilty for the charge.

Judges of the Criminal Court, 18 August 2006

RSS Subscribe


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: