THAILAND: Threats to human rights defender and family in Bangkok


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-064-2009
ISSUES: Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP) that two cars are belonging to the family of Angkhana Neelaphaijit, a prominent human rights defender, were broken into this month. The break-ins followed her urging a special investigation unit under the justice ministry to reopen the files on the disappearance of her husband, human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, and treat it as a murder since a court has now declared him legally dead. Nothing was stolen from the vehicles and the break-ins appear to be connected to the case.


On the morning of 7 June 2009, a Honda Civic, license no. Por Nor 6786, that belonged to disappeared lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, was broken into outside his family’s house in Bangkok. The small window on the right hand side of the car was broken in order to unlock the door. Several of Somchai’s belongings were moved within the car, including a prayer hat, a copy of the Qur’an, and a mobile phone charger, but nothing was stolen even though the car contained valuables such as a radio-tape player. Angkhana Neelaphaijit, Somchai’s wife, reported the break-in to the head of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), which is responsible for investigating his case, the police headquarters and local police. The local police and a forensic investigation team arrived at the house quickly and took fingerprints. An umbrella and the broken window were subsequently found in a garbage can opposite the house.

Three days later, at 2am of June 10, the family’s Honda Accord, license no. Por Yor 8574, which belongs to Angkhana Neelaphaijit herself and was also parked at the house, was broken into in the same manner. There was no stolen property but an old purse and cards were dropped in a trash bin opposite side of the house. Officers investigated the fingerprints but found no matching prints with those on Somchai’s car or to those on the police databases. After this incident, the police took some measures to protect the family.

Angkhana Neelapaijit believes that the break-ins are intended to again threaten her and her family due to the ongoing pressure and developments regarding the disappearance of her husband. She has recently had several meetings with high-ranking officials, including the prime minister and justice minister, to lobby for greater action. In March 2009, the case was highlighted by the Canadian delegation during the reporting of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances at the Human Rights Council (AHRC-FST-020-2009), at the time of a public commemoration in Bangkok of the fifth anniversary of Somchai’s disappearance (AHRC-STM-068-2009). Moreover, the Organization of Islamic States has also urged the government to resolve the case of Somchai’s disappearance as well as those of large-scale killings in the south of Thailand.


Angkhana Neelapaijit recently petitioned the civil court to declare her husband missing so she could take control of his assets (AHRC-FST-021-2009). The civil court took up the petition and declared on 18 May 2009 that Somchai was a missing person as he had been missing for five years, which means that Somchai legally died on 12 March 2009 when the five years expired since he disappeared, under the Civil and Commercial Code sections 61 and 62. It was also reported in the Bangkok Post on 19 May 2009 that the one police officer sentenced to three years in jail in connection with Somchai’s disappearance, Pol Maj Ngern Thongsuk of the Crime Suppression Division, is believed to have fled the country after having been released from jail while appealing the verdict. Earlier this year he had reportedly gone missing in a flood. Human rights defenders are suspicious that his death was faked. Angkhana had requested the police at the time to investigate the whereabouts of the officer’s body, which was not found.

There have been further developments in the Somchai case. Pol Lt Gen Panupong, head of police Region 7 (Ratchaburi province) withdrew from his post and Pol Gen Tanee, the chief investigator of the Somchai case within the DSI, is now looking for new evidence and witnesses in the area. At the same time, the National Counter Corruption Commission is preparing to deliver their investigation results into the torture allegations brought forward by Somchai Neelepaijit before he disappeared (AHRC UA-94-2004).

Further, Angkhana is chairman of Working Group Justice for Peace which is one of a handful of groups in Thailand in recent years that has systematically documented and reported abuses in the South. The branch office in Pattani province in Southern were also raid 2 times by a group of soldiers and police on February and March of this year. AHRC already issued the urgent appeal on this February incident (AHRC-UAC-011-2009).

Furthermore, Angkhana has supported the victims of alleged police killings and disappearances in Kalasin Province, northeastern Thailand, to complain to the DSI about their cases. See: UA-136-2007, UP-065-2007, UP-073-2007, UP-099-2007, and Strange fruit in Kalasin. Recent reports indicate that the DSI will charge police in connection with these alleged incidents.

For a full range of documents on the case of Somchai Neelaphaijit see the AHRC campaign page:

For a report on the defects in the witness protection system in Thailand, including discussion of Angkhana’s case, see: Protecting witnesses or perverting justice in Thailand

For further on human rights issues in Thailand read the 2008 country report of the AHRC.


Please write letters to the authorities listed below, urging them to investigate the raids on two cars of Neelaphaijit family and stop threats against human rights defenders in Thailand.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights defenders and the UN human rights office in Bangkok calling for intervention in this matter.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear _________,

THAILAND: Break-ins of cars in Bangkok and threats to human rights defender and family

Victims: Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairperson of the Working Group on Justice for Peace, wife of disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, and family
Alleged perpetrators: Unknown
Dates of incidents: Between 1am – 5am on 7 June 2009 and about 2am on 10 June 2009
Vehicle details: Honda Civic license no. Por Nor 6786, belonging to Somchai Neelapaijit; Honda Accord, license no. Por Yor 8574, belonging to Angkhana Neelapaijit
Place of incident: Soi Isaraphap 11, Isaraphap Road, Thonburi, Bangkok

I am writing to express my deep concern that two cars belonging to the family of human rights defender Angkhana Neelaphaijit were broken into in Bangkok on the nights of 7 and 10 June 2009 following pressure on the government of Thailand to resolve the case of disappeared lawyer, husband of Angkhana, Somchai Neelaphaijit.

Briefly, I am informed that the car belonging to Somchai was broken into by somebody between 1 and 5am on 7 June 2009. The perpetrators stole nothing from his car, even the valuable radio player, but several of his possessions were moved around, including his prayer hat, a copy of the Qur’an, and a mobile phone charger. This car has been parked in front of the Neelapaijit family house since Somchai was forcibly disappeared.

Three days later, the car belonging to Angkhana Neelaphaijit, Somchai’s wife, was also broken into in the same manner, around 2am on 10 June 2009. Again, items were moved but no valuable things were stolen.

I am also informed that the raids were conducted after Angkhana got a court order for Somchai to be declared legally dead under sections 61 and 62 of the Civil and Commercial Code. Then she urged the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under the Ministry of Justice to investigate Somchai’s case as a murder case and to find the perpetrators. Angkhana was also recently supporting victims of alleged police killings and disappearances in the northeast to lodge complaints with the DSI.

Even though Angkhana is a well-known human right defenders and a person in the public eye, she and her still family are still exposed to these types of blatant attempts to intimidate and silence her, in the case of her husband and others like it that go on constantly in Thailand. The extent to which this sort of behaviour can occur in high-profile cases indicates how much more people who have no connections, people who are not known outside their localities, can be threatened and if necessary, targeted for attacks, killing and disappearances. It also shows how weak the witness protection system remains in Thailand, and how little security anyone in the country has after making complaints against public authorities.

I urge that a special investigation be made into this case without delay. Furthermore, Angkhana, her family and the witnesses and relatives of victim in cases where complaints have been lodged against the police should be provided protection under the Witness Protection Act BE 2546 (2003).

I also join in calls for the case of disappeared lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit to be once and for all resolved. Although five years have passed and the authorities in Thailand might have expected that his case would be forgotten, it has not: it remains an international embarrassment for Thailand and will continue to remain one until the police responsible for his abduction and killing are brought to justice, instead of being allowed to continue serving as so-called officers of the law.

I look forward to your prompt action.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva 
Prime Minister 
c/o Government House 
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District 
Bangkok 10300 
Fax: +66 2 288 4000 ext. 4025 
Tel: +66 2 288 4000

2. Mr. Chaowarat Chanweerakul 
Minister of Interior 
Office of the Ministry of Interior 
Atsadang Road, Ratchabophit 
Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200 
Fax: +66 2 226 4371/ 222 8866 
Tel: +66 2 224 6320/ 6341 

3. Mr. Peeraphan Saleeratwipak 
Minister of Justice 
Office of the Ministry of Justice 
Ministry of Justice Building 
22nd Floor Software Park Building, 
Chaeng Wattana Road 
Pakkred, Nonthaburi 11120 
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884 
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223 

4. Mr. Kasit Piromya 
Minister of Foreign Affairs 
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affair 
443 Sri Ayudhya Road 
Bangkok 10400 
Fax: +662 643 5318 
Tel: +662 643 5333 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-064-2009
Countries : Thailand,
Campaigns : Somchai Neelaphaijit
Issues : Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,