Commemorating 37 human rights defenders murdered or disappeared in Thailand in the past 20 years, this exhibition highlights the community struggles they represent in defence of the environment, land rights and human rights, and the quest for justice by their bereaved loved ones. We viewed and discussed the work with Ms Pranom Somwong from Protection International back in 11 November 2016 at the Centre.
This project by Protection International remembers those who died by placing a portrait of the human rights defender at the place she or he was murdered or disappeared. The striking photographs are by Luke Duggleby.
We were delighted to have Ms Pranom Somwong with us to describe the human rights struggle she is part of, update us on the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT) which is represented in the exhibition, and answer questions. Four of the SPFT members, two of them women, were murdered defending the community from attempts by a palm oil company to evict them and take the land they are collectively and sustainably farming. SPFT won a recent court case against eviction, but the threat of eviction remains. Legal Action for Women and Global Women’s Strike based at the Women’s Centre have been gathering international support and presented letters to the Thai Embassy in London signed by many organisations and individuals in UK and elsewhere.
For Those Who Died Trying was first displayed in front of the United Nations building in Geneva in May 2016, as part of the evidence from human rights defenders to the Human Rights Council for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Thailand’s human rights record. This was the first review since the military coup in 2014. The exhibition was warmly welcomed by those attending the UPR as well as local residents and tourists who were deeply concerned and shocked. Several government delegates, including from the UK, called for human rights defenders to be protected from reprisals and an end to impunity for those who murdered, disappeared, detained and tortured them. The exhibition is touring – it was recently at the European Parliament in Brussels and in Spain, and will shortly be at universities in Thailand. It has been covered by BBC World News and Guardian (World Environment Day). Thailand is a popular tourist destination for people in the UK. But most do not know that farmers and other human rights defenders are being murdered and threatened with eviction. They should know about these injustices and how they can help. Contact us for more information.