THAILAND: Rubber farmers plan protests around country

Simultaneous rallies by rubber farmers are now scheduled to take place next Tuesday.

"We will join forces to demand that the government shore up the rubber price," Perk Lertwangpong said in his capacity as chairman of both the Para Rubber Growers Co-operative Federation of Thailand and the Chanthaburi Para Rubber Growers Co-operative.

Perk said the government should ensure that rubber fetches at least Bt100 a kilo.

Rubber-farmer leaders in the Northeast convened a meeting in Udon Thani on 27 Aug. 2013 to plan a massive rally for Tuesday.

"The turnout will be at least 50,000," Northeastern Para Rubber Growers Network chairman Sittiporn Thepchantramaneechai said. He insisted that all participating demonstrators would be rubber farmers speaking out about their plight, and not from groups mobilised by politicians.

Several government figures have recently tried to suggest that opposition politicians are behind the rubber farmers' intensifying protest.

Rubber farmers in Nakhon Si Thammarat have already staged a blockade of roads and railway lines.

Their peers in Nakhon Ratchasima are preparing to block a main road next Tuesday. Officials said they would inform motorists of alternative routes.

Source: Daily "The Nation", Bangkok; 28 Aug 2013
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)