Four female human rights champions lauded

national March 08, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

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FOUR WOMEN and women’s groups have won awards from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) this year for being outstanding defenders of human rights.



The award-presentation ceremony took place yesterday to mark International Women’s Day, which is celebrated worldwide today.
Honoured by the NHRC were the Women’s Group for the Protection of Community Rights from Loei’s Mining Operations; Pinnapa Preuksapan, the wife of missing Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongchaeron; Bangkok Post reporter Achara Ashayagachat; and the Su Cheewit women’s group. 
NHRC commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit said yesterday the human rights defenders deserved not just recognition but also protection. 
“We need to find measures to help protect them and support their ongoing contributions to Thailand,” she said. 
In Loei, 12 women are facing charges related to their participation in a local conservation group’s campaign to block mining operations that could endanger the local environment and public health. 
“Even though we are facing legal threats, we won’t give up our fight. We need to protect our community for our children and grandchildren,” Ranong Kongsang, a member of the Loei group, said. 
She said she hoped her children and grandchildren would be able to enjoy a pristine environment including clean air.
Pinnapa has won recognition for speaking up for her husband, who disappeared several years ago under suspicious circumstances. She demanded the justice system proceed to find out who was behind his disappearance, regardless of how complicated and exhausting the process might be. 
“I hope no one else is subjected to such a forced disappearance again,” she said. 
Achara, who has long covered human right issues, said every effort to protect human rights counted. 
“Speaking up is a way to prevent the problem. Speak up, and our own safety as well as community’s safety will rise,” she said. 
A representative of the Su Cheewit women’s group said one of the main obstacles in delivering help to women who were lured into prostitution was the problematic attitudes of many officials. 

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