Pravit Rojanaphruk has an inspiring story at The Nation on the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), described as “a cohesive gathering dedicated to helping those whose views and actions pit them against military might.”
TLHR was formed after the 2014 military coup when it became clear that there was a desperate “need for legal representation of those prosecuted by the junta…”. These lawyers have taken cases by thse accused of having “broken security laws or suspected of lese majeste as well as those summoned by the [junta] for ‘attitude adjustment’.”
According to Yaowalak Anupan who heads up the TLHR, it wasn’t the coup itself that stimulated the formation of the TLHR. Rather it was “the realisation that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) would not be setting up a hotline to help opponents of the coup who were being detained without charge in secret locations, those who had been charged and those who claimed to have been tortured.”
At PPT we think it rather remarkable that lawyers would have thought that the NHRC had any interest in human rights. After all, with but a couple of exceptions, the NHRC has done nothing at all for human rights. Yaowalak knows this too, stating: “The Thai state has never supported Thai [rights] NGOs even before the coup.”
With “12 full-time staff and some 10 pro bono lawyers” these are a group that deserves credit for representing those targeted by the military regime. They say they are idealists yet they are dealing with a regime that is destroying ideals, rights and liberties.
Of the 48 cases taken on by TLHR, “23 involve lese majeste and involve a total of 81 clients.”
Yaowalak bravely declares: “We don’t recognise the legitimacy of the NCPO…”.