THAILAND: A human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit missing

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Forum-Asia that a prominent human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit is missing since 12 March 2004. We are forwarding the statement of Forum-Asia regarding this matter. It is reported that Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit’s human rights activities in Southern Thailand have created tension within the security forces. Human rights organizations in Thailand believe that the disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit is connected to his high profile work defending human rights in the South. 

Please send a letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand and request him to take speedy action for finding Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Forum-Asia.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Forum-Asia statement
16 March 2004

Thai Government must speed the finding of Missing Prominent Thailand Human Rights Lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit

Prominent Thailand human rights lawyer and human rights defender, 53 years old Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit, has been missing for four consecutive days since March 12, 2004.

Human Rights organizations in Thailand believe that Mr. Somchai’s disappearance is closely connected to his persistent and high profile works defending human rights and the interests of the general public for sustainable peace in the South. His human rights work involved in obtaining 50,000 signatures from around the country to support an end to martial law in the deep Southern Thailand, advocacy work in promoting the rule of law and justice for the Muslim suspects accused of terrorism and treason, and vocal criticism on state officials for excessive and unnecessary violence in law enforcement, all of which has placed him in constant conflict and tension with the security forces in the southern Thai provinces.

Based on the fact that Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit had on several occasions disclosed to his close friends his fear after receiving anonymous threatening calls, and the most recent call from a Deputy Chief who informed him of his name being placed by security forces in the top list of the members of terrorist groups, Forum-Asia rejects Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s remark that Human Rights Defender Somchai has disappeared due to his personal problem with families as being irrelevant and a tactic to divert the state obligation to protecting its citizen.

Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit, chairman of the Muslim Lawyers Group, vice chair of the Human Rights committee of the Law Society of Thailand, is a well known and well respected civil rights leader in Thailand, and especially in the South. His involuntary disappearance and the state’s failure to ensure his safety is in contrast to the Thai government’s commitment in upholding the rule of law, respecting human rights and bringing sustainable peace to the turbulent South. 

Forum-Asia expresses its grave concern at Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit’s disappearance, which also resembles the missing prominent Thai Trade Union leader, Mr. Thanong Bo Arn, who is still missing 10 years later.

As the 60th session of the Commission on Human Rights is currently convening in Geneva, with Thailand Special Envoy and Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Vitthya Vejjajiva, scheduled today[1] to address the 191 member state in the Commission on its commitment to protect and promote human rights in its country, Forum-Asia is appealing to the Thai government to fulfill its pledge at Geneva by facilitating its maximum resources to ensure the speedy finding and safe return of Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit. 


For further information or comments contact:
Somchai Homlaor, FORUM-ASIA Secretary-General on +66 (0)1 8995476

[1] For more information, please refer to Forum-Asia website and link to Web Monitoring and Documentation (WMD) on the 60th Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

Contact information of the government of Thailand and UN bodies:

1. Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra 
Prime Minister 
Government house, 
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District, 
Bangkok 10300 
Fax: +66 2 282 8631 

2. Professor Saneh Chamarik
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathurn Wan District
Bangkok 10300
Fax: 662 219 2940

3. Mr Pongthep Thepkanjana 
Minister of Justice 
Office of the Ministry of Justice 
Ministry of Justice Building 22nd Floor 
Jangwatana Road, Parkket 
Nonthaburi 11120 
Fax: +662 502 6699 

4. HE Purachai Piumsombun
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior, Thanon Atsadang, Bangkok 10200, THAILAND 
Tel: +662 224-6320/6341 
Fax: +662 226-4371 

5. Mr. Jahanshah Assadi
Regional Representative
UNHCR Regional Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam
3rd floor, United Nations Building
Rajdamnern Avenue, Bangkok 10120
Fax: (662) 280 0555; 281 6100

6. Mr. Saied Rajale Khorasani
UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
C/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10,
Tel: 41 22 9179830
Fax: 41 22 9176009

7. Ms. Hina Jilani
UN Sepcial Represetative of the Secretaary-General on Human Rights Defenders
C/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10,
Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-06-2004
Countries : Thailand,
Campaigns : Somchai Neelaphaijit
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,