Bravity – The arts of rights protection

12 June 2017

By Attabhumi Ongkulana

First published in Bangkokbiznews


Bravity – the phenomenon where arts helps spread human rights messages.  


It’s ‘Bravity’, the graffiti arts that stand tall in front of the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center attracting passers-by each day. 


Some stop to take a closer look or take pictures of the arts while others may pass by without noticing them.

For those who stop to take a closer look, they would be wondering why some cartoon characters were sprayed on the walls.

The answer is the wall graffiti is part of the Bravity Campaign; an international arts campaign to raise awareness to end violence and attacks on human rights defenders.

The recent report “Human rights defenders under threat – a shrinking space for civil society”, published by Amnesty International indicates that in recent years, more people stepped out to protect their own rights and the rights of those close to them. At the same time, human rights defenders are facing more assaults and attacks from those who are corrupting the system for personal benefits. The report claims that currently human rights defenders in 68 countries, including Thailand, are detained or under arbitrary arrests solely because of their peaceful work. Human rights defenders in more than 94 countries are facing intimidation and assault. They are portrayed as murderers and dangerous to society or even threats to national security.

In 2016, 281 people were killed globally for defending human rights, up from 156 in 2015, according to the data from Front Line Defenders. “Amnesty International Thailand calls for all the brave individuals to come out and support human rights defenders because human rights defenders are themselves the brave individuals who work to protect the human rights of others. They now need you, other brave ones to help protect them and support each other. This is a way to build a better and safer world for everyone”,

Piyanut Kotesarn, Director of Amnesty International Thailand told us about ‘Bravity’ campaign. This perspective was also shared by the crowd who gathered at the “Bravity” campaign launch event. Human rights defenders are not restricted to well-known people or NGOs but include any one who stands up to injustice and for others. They may be lawyers, teachers, workers, farmers, villagers, any ordinary people, including artists.

Graphic Designer, Choonharat Smittiatkorn and Tatchakorn Sirawatcharadech, Graffiti Artist have expressed their own ‘Bravity’ by working together to produce Bravity arts on the walls. 

“Each person has their own way of communication. Some talk loud and solemnly to express their concerns on these attacks. When they say this is not right and has to change, they may raise their voice. We are artists and we express ourselves in our own way”, said Choonharat.

Characters of his art represents artists from various fields, musicians, writers, artists who in one sense, are the hunters. These artists, in their own way, all hunt for fame, money, successes, respect and recognition. The artists’ work maybe stolen or abused or suppressed by some influential people which is a form of rights violation. At the same time, some of the artists may be copying work of other artists. Choonharat raised questions around the rights to arts and intellectual property and whether people understand when they themselves steal other people’s ideas and work.


Tatchakorn chimed in and said in order to create arts, Graffiti Artists have to fight their fear and build their bravery. “You are afraid that you would not get a permission from the property owner, not be understood by passers-by, be looked down upon by others, unlike other forms of arts that has well-formed audience.” “I would like society to support the brave individuals so they can say and do what they want to. Each person has the right to express themselves, in their own way. They should do it and so we will have a better society.”


“Bravity” Campaign aims to recognize the contribution of those brave individuals who defend human rights around the world, to raise the awareness about the danger that they face, and to call for effective measures to protect them. Human rights defenders should be able to do their human rights work safely without facing any intimidation or danger.