Pattaya Daily News

28 August 2013 :: 13:08:56 pm 77749

DSI Digs For Bones In Phuket Sea Gypsy Village

Officers from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the Central Institute of Forensic Science and the Regional Fine Arts Office 15 spent four days straddling last weekend (August 23-26) at the Sea Gypsy village in Rawai, searching for bones or other evidence that might back the Sea Gypsies’ claim to ownership of the land under their village.
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PHUKET – August 28,2013; The 2,000-plus people living in the village are battling with a local businessman who has papers showing he owns the land under the village.

Hopes were raised on March 20 when a villager found an old bone buried near her home. This, the villagers argued, might be proof that the community had been living there since before land ownership was registered.

But Lt Col Prawuth Wongseenil of the DSI told The Phuket News, “That bone [by itself] can’t be used as evidence because it was dug up by the villagers. However, we are keeping it as a part of the overall body of evidence.”

Last weekend, officials carried out their own excavations to see if they could find more bones that might be dated, and looked for other kinds of evidence that might show the Sea Gypsies were living in the village before the original SorKor 1 paper was issued for the land in 1955, or the Chanote land deed 10 years later.

There is plenty of evidence that the villagers have lived there for many decades, include aerial photos from 1967 and 1976 and even a film of HM the King visiting the area in 1959.

“Now,” said Col Prawuth, “we have to look for the evidence [of the village’s existence] before 1955. We used the movie of His Majesty’s visit and noted many landmarks, for example, Laem Ka and various houses in the area.

“We also used images captured from the movie to compare with the landmarks existing now. We can see, too, that the King walked along the village and we found that some of the villagers who appear in the film are still alive, so we asked them about their origins.

“Another point is that in 1965 the Chanote was issued. This would have required a survey to be conducted. Why did the villagers agreed to the results of the survey? They say they never saw land officials doing the survey.

“In addition, we have learned that there was a tradition whereby people would bury the dead in the area [of the village]. So we started [on August 20] to conduct digs. We have found many bones and also fragments of seashells. This tallies with Sea Gypsy tradition; they believe that shells are valuable in the afterlife.

“It is not obvious which bones come from the ancestors of which modern family so now we have to take DNA from the bones and see if there is a match with DNA we have collected randomly from each group of Sea Gypies in the village. This will take a while.”

Meanwhile, the villagers insist that the village is on ancestral land. Ming Lakkor told The Phuket News, “I’ve lived in this area since I was born. My family has always lived here. I am around 70 years old. If they [the ‘owners’] take the land, I don’t know where I will live”.

View the original story on The Phuket News

Category : Thailand News

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