Spotlight on Earth Rights Defenders in Thailand

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I am so lucky to have had opportunities to meet inspiring people who have dedicated their lives to public interest.  These people believe strongly in the capacities of the weak, and they work to protect earth rights. One of the most inspiring people is my senior colleague, Ms. Supaporn Malailoy or P’Noo.

P’Noo was one of the establishers of EnLAWTHAI foundation.  EnLAWTHAI was founded in 2001 with a mission to monitor and enhance positive environmental law as well as to strengthen industrial affected communities through providing legal training, promoting environmental campaigns, and being a representative in environmental lawsuits. As a general manager, P’Noo is still a key figure in the foundation.

P’Noo has given me invaluable inspiration and ambition.  I collaborated with her as a junior lawyer at the organization for three years. Even though she did not graduate from law school, she has tried her best to learn complicated legal issues through her work experiences. For me, P’Noo is a strong woman who sacrifices her life for communities all day and night. She never turns her phone off because she is worried that villagers might face some urgent situations and need her help. Her schedule is always full of meetings with local communities and networks. She told me that she always feels uncomfortable denying villagers’ requirements because when they ask her, they are in severe trouble, and hope that she can solve their problems.

P’Noo strongly believes that local people (almost all are farmers) play an essential role in protecting the environment. She does not want to block all development, but she thinks that local people know their area best.  Thus, they must have the right to decide how it is developed.

Even though I left the foundation a year ago, P’Noo’s devotion and determination still inspire me to work harder.  I know I must improve myself so that in the future, I can support her work and EnLAW. In my opinion, this is the best way to honor her.

Our EarthRights School Mekong students were recently asked to write a short essay on an earth rights defender from their country. Two students - from Thailand and Vietnam - wrote very inspiring essays about strong women earth rights defenders. This piece is by an earth rights defender from Thailand, Ashijya Otwong (Proud). 

Ashijya Otwong (Proud) is currently a student at EarthRights’ School Mekong. She has worked as an environmental lawyer for ENLAW in Bangkok, investigating the environmental impacts of various projects on local communities, disclosing information on misconduct around Environmental Impact Assessments, conducting community-based environmental law trainings, and doing media campaigning.  

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