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Angkhana receives Asia’s ’Nobel prize’

Angkhana receives Asia’s ’Nobel prize’

Angkhana Neelapaijit, who resigned as human rights commissioner last week, has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

culture
By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 6 August 2019, 09:36AM


Angkhana Neelapaijit speaks at an event marking the role of woman in human rights protection in Bangkok in March 2018. She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award on Friday (August 2). Photo: Bangkok Post

Angkhana Neelapaijit speaks at an event marking the role of woman in human rights protection in Bangkok in March 2018. She was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award on Friday (August 2). Photo: Bangkok Post

Mrs Angkhana, 63, was lauded for “championing justice, case after painful case,” according to the foundation’s website.

The annual award, widely considered Asia's version of the Nobel Prize, is named for the Filipino president who died in a 1957 plane crash. This year's winners will receive a cash prize and a medallion at a Manila ceremony on September 9.

Other awardees are Ko Swe Win from Myanmar, Ravish Kumar of India, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab of the Philippines and Kim Jong-ki of South Korea.

Mrs Angkhana founded the Justice for Peace Foundation in 2006. The network has played a key role in documenting the human rights situation in southern Thailand.

Its work has raised public awareness and putting pressure on the government to act on human rights cases, providing legal assistance to victims and training women on human rights and the peace process, according to the foundation.

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She was named human rights commissioner in 2015 but resigned last Wednesday (July 31), along with Tuenjai Deetes, another commissioner, after the National Human Rights Commission’s regulations were changed prohibiting commissioners from giving news to media when they are in the field.

They viewed the ban limited the effectiveness of their work because with no publicity, they no longer received tip-offs from the public, which in the past had helped them address the problems.

Mrs Angkhana’s husband, Somchai Neelapaijit, a Muslim lawyer and human rights activist, disappeared in 2004. He was last seen in Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng area where eyewitnesses saw four men dragging him from his car. He has not been seen since.

Five police officers were charged with coercion in the Somchai case. They were acquitted in 2015. A year later the DSI dropped the case, having shown no results after 12 years of investigation. The case of the possible death of Somchai has not since been solved. In 2016 the Department of Special Investigation declared the investigation "over".

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