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Several Moken sea gypsies were beaten up by about 100 men as they tried to stop the men from blocking the entrance and exit of beachfront land in Phuket’s Muang district where they have been dwelling for years.
Mr Paitree Chongkraichak, a coordinator of the Moken or Chao Ley ethnic group, said that the men, numbering about 100, arrived at the public beachfront in Tambon Rawai with a backhoe and trucks loaded with huge rocks.
The rocks were then unloaded from the trucks to block the entrance and exit of the land occupied by several families of Chao Ley for several decades. The land has been used to dock their small fishing boats and a burial ground for their ancestors.
The Chao Ley however protested the encroachers prompting the latter to starting beating up the normally peaceful sea nomads. Several of them were reported to be injured.
The violent attack against the Chao Ley stemmed from a lengthy land conflict between the ethnic people and a group of land developers who have wanted to develop the land but could not do so due to the presence of the Chao Ley.
Beachfront land in Phuket is hard to find, commands very expensive price and is highly sought after by real estate developers.