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Thai woman labour rights activist sentenced one month in prison

Photo: The Story of แม่หญิงไฟ้ท์
Photo: The Story of แม่หญิงไฟ้ท์

Thanaporn Wichan (pictured centre), a woman labour rights activist and union leader in the construction industry, was sentenced to one month in prison.

On 7 November 2022, the Bangkok North Municipal Court sentenced a labour rights activist from Saraburi province to one month in prison, with one year probation and a fine of 20,000 baht (535 USD). The activist was found guilty of violating the government’s emergency decree.

Thanaporn has been vocal on labour rights issues and active in the pro-democracy movement. In October 2021, she helped Cambodian migrant workers follow up on the progress of their demands about the remedies and support during the COVID-19 outbreak at the Ministry of Labour. Seven Cambodian migrants were arrested while submitting the petition, and Thanaporn was accused of “harbouring, hiding or in any manner assisting” migrant workers. However, Thanaporn was found not culpable of the crime. She was later charged with violating the emergency decree. 

During the time the law was in place from 2020 to October 2022 due to the pandemic, more than 1,400 people were charged with violating the emergency decree, according to local NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Center. The human rights group, Protection International, criticised the government for using the regulation to silence freedom of expression.

Denied from the Justice Fund for financial aid in lawsuits, Thanaporn will continue to appeal the case. “We went to the Ministry of Labour because it is supposed to be the responsible authority for taking care of workers.”