Amnesty lauding ‘Anon Nampha’ for receiving the Gwangju Prize and demanding his immediate release

18 May 2021

Amnesty International Thailand

The May 18 Memorial Foundation has organized a ceremony to confer the 2021 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights to Mr. Anon Nampha on 18 May and has invited him to join them via zoom.  But since Mr. Anon is still receiving treatment for Covid-19 he caught while incarcerated in prison and is now hospitalized at Thammasat Hospital and since the court has denied him bail, he is unable to participate in this ceremony.  

Amnesty International Thailand would like to congratulate Lawyer Anon Nampha as a recipient of this prestigious prize. And in line with the Prize Committee, we believe in Mr. Anon’s conviction to enhance human rights in Thailand. His dedication to his lawyer career can be witnessed since 2008 as he has been offering pro bono lawyering services to many pro-democracy and human rights activists. Despite having to face many risks, he has never stopped his advocacies for justice and human rights.  

Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand, says that she lauds Lawyer Anon Nampha for receiving the prize he deserves as an advocate for democracy and human rights. She also calls on the Thai authorities to stop treating critics as if they are criminals or a threat to national security. These people should be released and the charges against them should be dropped immediately should there be no evidence that their alleged crime is internationally recognized.  

“We are pleased to work to defend the rights of human rights activists in Thailand who deserve to be known and recognized internationally. There are many people who have the conviction to work to promote respect, protect and defend human rights for themselves and others. Making a collective effort to engender a safe space in which peaceful dialogue and expression can be made is instrumental to the development of equal and fair society. We thank every human rights defender, nationally and internationally, for standing for human rights.”

“Amnesty International Thailand continues to call on the Thai authorities to release Mr. Anon Nampha, a human rights lawyer and defender and all others who have been imprisoned merely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, immediately and unconditionally. All charges against them must be dropped if they have stemmed from the exercise of their human rights and all harassment must be stopped. Domestic laws must be reformed or repealed in compliance with Thailand’s international human rights obligations including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Amidst the surge of Covid-19 infections in the prison system and according to the Ministry of Public Health’s latest figures on 18 May 2021, 11,428 inmates have been tested positive for Covid-19 including Lawyer Anon Nampha who has caught the virus while being incarcerated in the prison. It is therefore critically important to ease up the crowdedness of the prisons and to restore the right to bail of suspects who have yet been convicted.  

Previously, Amnesty International Thailand has sent a letter to call on the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Supreme Court of Justice to consider taking an urgent measure to ensure the protection of the inmates’ freedoms and rights amidst the pandemic in order to mitigate the impact from the spread of Covid-19 in the prisons and between the prisons and the public.  

We recommend that face masks, soaps, and clean water be adequately provided to all the inmates free of charge and they should have access to medical care and to Covid-19 test urgently. Infected persons should be isolated from other inmates and should receive proper medical treatment. All the inmates and prison officers should receive Covid-19 vaccination without discrimination. And an effort should be made to ’minimize incarceration at all stages’ in compliance with the Ministry’s and the President of the Supreme Court’s policies immediately. 

The Gwangju Prize has been given to human rights activists since 2000. Previous laureates from Thailand include Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit, former National Human Rights Commissioner in 2006 and Mr. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (Pai Dao Din) in 2017. Regionally and at the Asian level, laureates of the prize include Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Min Ko Naing, pro-democracy activists from Myanmar and Bersih, for its advocacies for free and fair elections in Malaysia.