Some 1250 people protested in Chiang Mai on Sunday, April 29, over the government-sponsored construction of luxury houses on mountainous, forested land near the city. The protesters reportedly demand that authorities demolish new buildings which have been constructed in the foothills of Doi Suthep mountain, considered by some to be sacred. The protesters have vowed to stage additional protests if the government does not adequately respond to their demands within seven days.
Though Sunday's protest remained peaceful, a heightened security presence and clashes between protesters and police are possible near further potential protests in the coming days. Localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near protest sites.
Sunday's protest was reportedly one of the largest demonstrations held in Thailand since the 2014 coup d'etat. The protesters argue that the construction near Doi Suthep, started in 2015, impinges on sacred ground and is damaging the forest environment and the air quality of neighboring Chiang Mai. Government officials have argued that the development is legal and taking place on state-owned land, and that the environmental impact of the construction should only be assessed after the houses have been used for ten years; officials have threatened to take legal action against the demonstrators if the houses are destroyed.
Individuals in Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.