Bor Nok activists raise profile

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN - After successfully defending their community from a coal-fired power plant project, fishermen in Bor Nok have taken up the cause of consumer protection.

The Khon Jap Pla (Fishermen) shop opened on Saturday near the statue of slain community activist Charoen Wat-aksorn beside Phetkasem Road in Muang district.

The freshly caught fish sold at the shop contain no chemicals, such as formalin that is often used to prolong shelf life, said Kornuma Pongnoi, the leader of the Rak Bo Nok group and Charoen's widow.

The shop is another step being taken by residents of the community to protect their marine resources and raise awareness of safe foods among consumers, she added.

Fresh seafood, along with organic vegetables and fruits, come direct from producers in Bor Nok to the shelves of the shop, bypassing the middleman, said Mrs Kornuma.

The opening of the shop coincided with the 10th anniversary of Charoen's death. Charoen was one of the leaders in the Bor Nok villagers' fight against a plan by Gulf Electric Co to build a coal-fired power plant in the area. They began campaigning against the plant when it was announced in 1995, saying it would damage the sea and end the coastal fishing livelihoods of the residents. The government later ordered the project scrapped.

Charoen faced frequent threats to his life and on June 21, 2004, he was gunned down as he stepped off a bus from Bangkok and was walking home.

He had gone to Bangkok with evidence to show a Senate committee that the land set aside for the plant location was public property.

The statue was built in 2005 at the location where he was slain. His wife has been the community leader since then.

Police later arrested gunmen Saneh Lekluan and Prachuab Hinkaew, who confessed that they killed the activist. The two died in jail.

Saneh and Prachuab claimed Thanu Hinkaew was the mastermind. Mr Thanu was convicted and sentenced to death in December 2008 but the Appeals Court reversed the conviction in March 2013. Bor Nok residents rallied the following month to call for justice for the late activist.

The case is now before Supreme Court.

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