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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Lawyer and Land Rights Activist Gunned Down in Trang Province

    Human Rights Watch said today Thai authorities should immediately investigate the killing of a lawyer and land rights activist. Somsak Onchuenjit was gunned down in Trang province in southern Thailand.


    Successive Thai governments have failed to prevent or adequately respond to attacks against human rights defenders who represent landless farmers, Human Rights Watch said.


    On May 4, 2021, at about 7:40 a.m., an unidentified gunman fatally shot Somsak, 54, while he was working in a rubber plantation near his home in Trang province’s Wangviset district. Somsak had recently told his family that he had been followed and was receiving death threats.

    Furthermore local authorities had neither investigated the threats nor arranged any measures to protect him.


    “Thai authorities should not just stand by while grassroots activists in southern provinces are being murdered for standing up for their communities,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should urgently conduct a credible and impartial investigation and bring those responsible for Somsak’s death to justice.”


    Somsak had led a campaign for the right to agricultural land for poor villagers in his district. Over the past five months, conflicts in the area have intensified between local villagers who occupied oil palm plantations that no longer have valid leases with government agencies and private companies backed by local politicians. Community members told Human Rights Watch that police investigations into Somsak’s murder so far appear half-hearted and ineffectual.


    Land rights activists keep being killed
    During the past decade, at least five land rights activists in southern Thailand have been killed. All were leaders in campaigns seeking community ownership of agricultural land used by palm oil companies in which the lease with the government for the land had expired. The police have not made any serious progress in any of these cases.


    Meanwhile, the remaining activists constantly face harassment, physical intimidation, and a barrage of lawsuits filed by palm oil companies.


    The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders calls on governments to take all necessary measures to protect human rights defenders against violence, threats, retaliation, and other abuses because of their work. International law recognizes government accountability for failing to protect people from rights abuses and violence by private actors.


    According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, governments must not only protect people from violations of rights by government officials but “also against acts committed by private persons or entities that would impair the enjoyment” of their rights. A government may be violating human rights by “permitting or failing to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by such acts by private persons or entities.”

    “The Thai government is failing in its obligation to seriously and effectively investigate deadly attacks against human rights advocates and hold those responsible to account,” Adams said. “With each new killing, Thailand slides further into lawlessness, and the government’s frequent claims to be protecting rights defenders ring hollow.”


    Lawyer and Land Rights Activist Gunned Down in Trang Province

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat misskit's Avatar
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    Prime Suspects Questioned Over Lawyers Murder


    The three prime suspects wanted for the murder of a lawyer and land rights activist in Trang are being questioned by the police, it was announced yesterday.


    Somsak Onchuenjit, 54, was found dead at a rubber plantation in Ban Huai Kot in Trang’s Wang Wiset district on May 4. It was said that he was killed by a hitman who had disguised himself as a gardener.


    As a result of the investigation, Pol Col Pongpanot Chukaew, superintendent of Crime Suppression Division’s (CSD) sub-division 6, led officers from his team, provincial police and the Hanuman task force in raiding 10 locations across the province.


    At a house in tambon Khao Wiset, police apprehended the alleged hitman, Chalermwut Nokroorak, a former village head who had just been released from prison two years ago for another crime in Nakhon Si Thammarat.


    Police also found a .357 Magnum revolver, some ammunition, along with 10 other people, including Charinrat Krutthirat, mayor of Wang Wiset municipality, and Saranyoo Kueboonsong, who were also wanted by the police for their alleged roles in the murder.


    They were taken into custody and interrogated at Trang Provincial Police’s Investigation Division.


    Prime Suspects Questioned Over Lawyers Murder | Chiang Mai One

  3. #3
    Achieve By Unity cyrille's Avatar
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    Meanwhile, the remaining activists constantly face harassment, physical intimidation, and a barrage of lawsuits filed by palm oil companies.
    Palm oil.

    Every place that produces this damn stuff seems to be crawling with crooks.

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat

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    Criminality is simply an extension of local government here as vested interests protect themselves in the exploitation of their enterprises.

    Human rights and Asia is oxymoronic.

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