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Thailand farmers protest against BAAC over land seizures

Staff Writer |
Protesting farmers camped out in front of a branch of the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) for the second day on Tuesday, accusing the branch of failing to honour an agreement on farm debt relief.

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On Monday, at least 50 farmers gathered outside the BAAC branch on Wongto Road in central Chai Nat's Muang district. They represent farmers in eight districts who are members of the Farmer's Reconstruction and Development Fund.

They accuse the bank's branch management of failing to follow an agreement they reached with the BAAC head office in Bangkok on Jan 11 on assistance for farmers in default of their loans.

Under the agreement, the BAAC would delay filing lawsuits against farmers who default on loans, according to the protesters.

In cases that had already been finalised, the execution of the court order would be suspended. In cases where the execution was already effective, the auction of seized property would be deferred,

However, the management at the BAAC's local branch had not honoured the agreement and served the seizure notices on farmers. Some elderly farmers passed out and fell sick after being forced to sign the documents, they said.

The farmers remained camped outside the bank on Tuesday. They said farmers from Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri and Phichit would also be joining the protest.

They insisted the gathering was not political and there were no businessmen behind their protest. They were intent only on protecting their farms, which were passed down from their ancestors.

They planned to continue their protest for at least another five days, or until senior management from the BAAC meets them to negotiate a solution.

Police and soldiers have been deployed to maintain order around at the protest site around the clock.

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