Angkhana Neelapaichit

Ashoka Fellow
Thailand,
Fellow Since 2007
Working Group on Justice for Peace

Citation

This profile was prepared when Angkhana Neelapaichit was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Angkhana is working to eliminate the practice of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions in Thailand. According to the 1998 International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Forced Disappearance, forced disappearance is the deprivation of a person’s liberty, in whatever form or for whatever reason, brought about by agents of the state or by persons acting with the authorization or support of the state, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person. The practice of state-sanctioned disappearance has been common in Thailand, especially during times of martial law. In 2004, Angkhana’s husband—a prominent human rights lawyer— suddenly disappeared. Since then, Angkhana has worked on multiple levels to socialize, legalize, and implement standards that will right these wrongs and bring an end to impunity in Thailand.
A victim turned human rights advocate herself, Angkhana is using her life experiences to encourage the families of victims to rise up, speak out, testify, and work at all levels of society. She first responds to individual cases, communities, and issues as they arise—a grassroots approach that has gained her trust and respect at both the local and national level. She then addresses systematic legal reforms to recognize and protect against enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions: Writing new constitutional articles and laws, defending cases in court, critiquing systems, and using publicity as a key tool for awareness-raising. Most importantly, she organizes families and friends of victims as well as human rights institutions in a quest for justice for all those oppressed, deprived of their freedom, and their right to information as part of her effort to bring lasting peace to Thailand.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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