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Suphap Khamlae


Suphap Khamlae is a land rights defender from the Khok Yao community in Kon San district, Chaiyaphum province, in Northeastern Thailand. Her community is currently facing forced eviction from a land they have occupied for decades, before it became a protected reserve. She has been advocating along with her husband Den Khamlae for the right to a legal title to the land for their community. Since 2015, Den Kamlae was leading the network of local villagers who have been trying to re-establish their right over this land. The prominent land rights defender is also a member of Essan Land Reform Network (ELRN), a union of local villagers opposing the Kon San Forest Project, which has caused significant destruction in parts of the Laohai forest area. The land was appropriated by the Forest Industry Organization which has evicted more than one-thousand people from local villages.

Den Khamlae disappeared on 16 April 2016 in Khok Yao forest near his village. Since then, his wife has been struggling to have the police properly investigate his disappearance and for the perpetrators of what she believes to be a murder, to be brought to justice.

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.