Fellow Since 2006
Association of Traditional Fishing Folks
This profile was prepared when Suwimon Piriyathanalai was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Protection of the communities’ coastal resources and livelihoods has long been a source of conflict in Thailand’s southernmost provinces. Suwimon is determined to work with the Muslim Malays, a traditionally marginalized group, to develop a nonviolent channel to defend their rights to fish and establish an initial step towards nurturing peace in the region. Suwimon is using her integration and work experience to encourage local communities and officials to work together. By building strong and well-informed community associations, she is increasing the capacity of coastal Malay Muslims to defend their interests and negotiate effectively with the state and other actors. These community associations play a key role in protecting the coastal environment, preventing violent conflicts over coastal resources, and making the residents less vulnerable to the pressure of recruitment efforts of armed groups in the region.