April 9, 2017
SIRIKAN CHAROENSIRI, a Thai human rights lawyer, has been selected to receive the Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) Award this year for her “unwavering courage and commitment” in fighting for the human rights situation in Thailand, the organisation said in a statement.
Known to her family and friends as “June”, Sirikan, 30, will be the first woman to receive the L4L award, which was announced on Friday. She will accept the award at L4L’s seminar ‘The Voice of Rights’ about lawyers and freedom of expression, hosted by Allen & Overy in Amsterdam on May 19.
“Sirikan is a young Thai lawyer who stands up for human rights activists, journalists and people tried after the coup by military courts, even though she is facing considerable risks herself,” the release said.
“By giving this award to Sirikan, the jury wants to applaud her unwavering courage and commitment, and draw attention to the human rights situation in Thailand, which is relatively unknown in the West.”
Sirikan is a co-founder of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a lawyers’ collective founded shortly after the military coup in May 2014 to provide legal aid and monitor the human rights situation in Thailand.
April 6, 2017
Sirikan Charoensiri (June), a human rights lawyer from Thailand, will receive the Lawyers for Lawyers Award 2017. On 19 May 2017 Sirikan Charoensiri will accept the Award at L4L’s seminar ‘The Voice of Rights’ about lawyers and freedom of expression, hosted by Allen & Overy in Amsterdam.
Jury remarks “Sirikan Charoensiri is a young Thai lawyer who stands up for human rights activists, journalists and people tried after the coup by military courts, even though she is facing considerable risks herself. By awarding Sirikan Charoensiri, the jury wants to applaud her unwavering courage and commitment, and draw attention to the human rights situation in Thailand that is relatively unknown in the West.”
High-profile human rights cases on a pro bono basis Ms. Charoensiri will be the first woman to receive the Lawyers for Lawyers award. Sirikan Charoensiri is the co-founder of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a lawyers’ collective founded shortly after the military coup on 22 May 2014 to provide legal aid and monitor the human rights situation in Thailand. As a human rights lawyer with TLHR, Ms. Charoensiri provides legal services in high-profile human rights cases on a pro bono basis. She acts for the increasing number of individuals facing lèse-majesté charges. These provisions make it illegal to defame, insult or threaten the king in Thailand. Ms. Charoensiri also represents human rights activists facing arbitrary arrest for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and expression and journalists facing arbitrary arrest in the exercise of media freedom and freedom of information by documenting the work of human rights activists. The political sensitivity of these cases is believed to be the reason why lawyers connected to TLHR are regularly subject to harassment, intimidation, and recently to criminal charges by the Thai authorities.
March 31, 2017
March is almost over but that doesn’t mean we should stop celebrating women. Here are a half dozen headliners from around Asia that are showing us how to run the world.
Thailand: Sirikan Charoensiri, Co-Founder of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
Sirikan Charoensiri will go down in Thailand’s history books as being the first lawyer charged with sedition by the Thai military junta. This happened in October last year, after she provided legal services through the firm she co-founded, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, to 14 student activists from the New Democracy Movement, who were anti-junta. The practice was established after the coup in 2014 to help those arrested under martial law to have access to justice. If she is found guilty, she could be jailed for up to 15 years.
Earlier in the year, in May, Charoensiri was also charged with criminal offences. The police had wanted to search her car after her clients were detained but did not have a warrant. She therefore refused the request and was later charged with not complying with orders and for “concealing evidence”.
The silver lining in this cloud is that she has since been recognised by Amnesty International as one of six women who are leading human rights activism in Southeast Asia. “In [the region], there are few governments who can be proud of their human rights records, but there are countless women across the region who have braved great dangers to take a stand against injustice,” said its director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel.
March 12, 2017
Pawinee Chumsri, a lawyer with the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, has won the outstanding human rights award given by the Somchai Neelapaijit Memorial Fund.
The award was announced on Saturday along with three other prestigious human rights awards to mark the 13th anniversary of the disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit.
Ms Pawinee won the Somchai Neelapaijit Award as a lawyer who has dedicated her legal career to the fight for human rights in the restive southern border provinces as well as cases involving politics after the 2014 coup.
The three other awards went to the Khon Rak Ban Koed Group (KRBKG), established by anti-gold mining villagers in Loei province; 14 Myanmar workers who filed a lawsuit against a chicken processing operator in Lop Buri; and student activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, known as “Pai Dao Din”.
Jon Ungpakorn, a panel member, said Ms Pawinee has played a pivotal role in several cases associated with human rights in the three restive southern provinces since 2007. She also had experiences in dealing with many enforced disappearance cases as well as other lawsuits after the coup.
March 11, 2017
‘Top Muslim lawyer disappears. Believed abducted for opposing martial law,” read a headline in this newspaper 13 years ago.
On March 12, 2004, Somchai Neelapaijit was last seen in Ramkhamhaeng. Eyewitnesses saw four men drag him from his car. No one has seen him since. Tomorrow marks the 13th anniversary of his disappearance — isn’t that oxymoronic, an anniversary of something invisible, for someone who wasn’t here?
Or maybe he is. To remember is to make someone exist. To forget is to condemn him to the dustbin of memory, to collective oblivion.
Every year friends and family organise an event to remember Mr Somchai. Today people are gathering at the Pridi Banomyong Institute in Thong Lor for “Somchai Where? Where’s Somchai?”, held not just to honour him with memory but also to reflect on the way justice works, or doesn’t work, in cases of human rights violations and enforced disappearances. The event includes the announcement of the Somchai Neelapaijit Award for human rights defenders.
Mr Somchai had been working in law for 30 years and, at the time of his disappearance, was representing five Muslim suspects allegedly involved in the army camp raid in Narathiwat in January 2004, the incident that blew up into the interminable unrest in the far South. He was also vociferous in his call for the army to end martial law in the troubled region, which remains in effect today.
March 8, 2017
Rights activists and groups are welcoming a Thai government decision to drop legal cases against three rights activists who authored a report last year accusing Thai security forces of abuse and torture in restive southern Thai provinces.
In early 2016, rights lawyers Somchai Homlaor, Pornpen Khongkachonkie, and Anchana Heemmina, published a report citing 54 cases of alleged torture and mistreatment of prisoners in military custody.
Three majority Muslim Malay provinces have been the center of a 12-year insurgency that has claimed more than 6,000 lives with little progress in efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement.
Following the report’s public release, Thai Internal Security Operations Command officials filed a criminal complaint against the activists, accusing them of defamation and breaches of the Computer Crimes Act.They faced prison sentences of up to five years and fines of $2,800.
The decision to drop the charges Tuesday followed negotiations and agreement by the activists to present future evidence to the ISOC before releasing any report.
February 23, 2017
On 26 February Hollywood’s brightest stars will gather in LA for the Oscars. The biggest film event on the calendar will provide a welcome distraction from the reality of a year that has seen assaults on human rights in almost every country.
Times like these can bring out the best in us, mobilizing people around the world to fight for what is right. Just like in the movies, sometimes extraordinary circumstances can make heroes out of ordinary people.
There are countless brave activists around the world who take great personal risks to defend human rights. Since it’s awards season, Amnesty International is paying tribute to four human rights heroes whose dramatic stories could – and should – be made into movies:
Sirikan Charoensiri, also known as “June”, is a young lawyer who has bravely stood up for human rights during a dark period of military rule in Thailand. In June 2015, she was on hand at a peaceful protest by pro-democracy student activists in Bangkok to monitor the situation and provide legal representation, if necessary.
In Iran, human rights defenders and other peaceful critics are subject to relentless harassment. Over the past year, those jailed after shockingly unfair trials before Revolutionary Courts including lawyers, bloggers, students, women’s rights activists, filmmakers and even musicians.