Thailand

The Assembly of the Poor ( AOP ) is a large network of grassroots activists from across Thailand , comprised predominantly of peasant farmers and urban slum dwellers, but joined by development non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic allies. Founded in 1995, the group has united around various issues that disparately affect the nation’s poor, including natural resource use, land and property rights, and safe working conditions. The AOP also pressures policymakers toward agricultural policy that supports small-scale farmers and food sovereignty. Membership has fluctuated, but at times up to 200,000 activists have belonged to the Assembly. Among other successes, the AOP has been instrumental in bringing public attention to the plights of both the rural and urban poor, garnering support for structural changes in favor of the poor, and challenging a top-down development paradigm that champions technocratic, state-led projects devoid of local input. The group is well known for its highly visible, large-scale demonstrations; certainly, its 99-day protest at Bangkok’s Government House in January 2007 cemented the AOP ‘s struggles into public discourse. Over 25,000 villagers and slum dwellers joined the demonstration, vowing to stay until the government responded to their petitions, which cited 122 grievances and necessary reforms

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