15TH YEAR OF SOMCHAI Neelaphaijit
AND THE VOICES OF THE DISAPPEARED
|Location:||Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangkok
106 Wireless Road, Entrance from the residence
(BTS Ploenjit or MRT Lumpini)
|Date:||12 March 2019 (14.00 – 16.30)|
|Participants:||Public, families of victims of involuntary disappearance/ killing, diplomats, government agencies, and CSOs (Approx. 50)|
|Partners:||Amnesty International – Thailand, Cross Cultural Foundation, Human Rights Lawyer Association, International Commission of Jurists, UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia and [Department of Rights and Liberty Protection- Ministry of Justice – TBC]|
12 March 2019 is the 15th year anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit, a prominent human rights lawyer. He was disappeared after being stopped on a road in Bangkok on 12 March 2004 and was abducted from his car by a group of police officers. He has not been seen since. After 15 years since his disappearance, Somchai’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown.
The disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit is an emblematic case which reflects the lack of justice being provided to the victims and family members. From 1980 to May 2018, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has recorded and transmitted 90 cases of alleged enforced disappearance to Thailand. Currently, 82 cases remain outstanding, including the case of Mr. Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, an ethnic minority Karen human rights defender, who was last seen in the custody of Kaeng Krachan National Park officials in April 2014, and the case of Mr. Thanong Pho-Arn, former President of the Labour Congress of Thailand, who was reportedly abducted in 1991.
Apart from these outstanding cases, there are still those who have disappeared and whose voices have not been heard. For some of these cases, a prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a disappearance has yet to assess whether they are enforced disappearances, for example, Mr. Surachai Danwattananusorn (Surachai Saedan), a 75-year-old political activist who fled from Thailand to Lao PDR after the May 2014 coup. He went missing from his residence in December 2018 along with two of his aides. The bodies of the two aides were recently found in the Mekong River.
In Lao PDR as well, justice has not been served in reported cases of enforced disappearance – after the abduction of Mr. Sombath Somphone, a prominent community development advocate, in 2012, no prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigation into his case has been conducted to discover his fate or whereabouts.
In light of the above, Amnesty International – Thailand, Cross Cultural Foundation, Human Rights Lawyer Association, International Commission of Jurists, UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia and [Department of Rights and Liberty Protection- Ministry of Justice – TBC] will co-host an interactive art performance and a public forum to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit and other cases. The forum will echo the voices of the victims and their challenges, discuss about the progress and development on the investigations, and evaluate the progress in Thailand’s legal framework towards addressing this critical matter.
Thai/English – using simultaneous interpretation.
Date and Venue
The event will be held on 12 March 2019 at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangkok
|14.00 – 14.20||Opening Remarks
A Representative of Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit, wife of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit and representative from the victims
|14.20 – 16.00||Voices of the Disappeared
Ms. Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, wife of Mr. Porlajee Billy Rakchongcharoen
Ms. Pranee Danwattananusorn, wife of Mr. Surachai Danwattananusorn Mr. Adisorn Pho-Arn, son of Mr. Thanong Pho-Arn
Ms. Shui-Meng Ng, wife of Mr. Sombath Somphone
The progress in Thailand’s legal and investigation framework
A Representative of the United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia
Dr. Pokpong Srisanit , Law Faculty , Thammsat University
Sanhawan Srisod, Legal Adviser, International Commission of Jurists
A Representative from the Ministry of Justice (TBC)
Moderator: Mr. Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong, Cross-Cultural Foundation
|16.00 – 16.30||Art Performance 30 mins after the program)|