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Den Kamlae

Den Khamlae

Reuters Article

Thai villagers seek answers to disappearance of land rights activist

Den Khamlae is a land rights defender from the Khok Yao community, Kon San district, Chaiyaphum province. The community is currently facing forced eviction from the land which they have occupied for forty-five years. Since 2015 Den Khamlae has been leading the network of local villagers who have been trying to re-establish their right over this land. The human rights defender is also a member of Essan Land Reform Network (ELRN), a union of local villagers opposing the Kon San Forest Project. The latter was established by the state-owned Forest Industry Organisation in 1978 and until now has caused significant destruction in part of the Laohai forest area resulting in the eviction of more than one-thousand people from local villages.

Human rights defenders in Thailand face threats, physical assaults, arbitrary detention, judicial harassment, and extrajudicial killings. HRDs most at risk include those working with migrants, particularly along the border with Burma, those who are fighting for economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights, and those working in the conflict zone of the three border provinces in Southern Thailand. The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has documented 35 cases of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders between 2003 – 2012, approximately 30 of whom were HRDs working on ESC rights. Many of these cases have not been properly investigated by the authorities.