Angkhana Neelapaijit, 59, is the wife of disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who went missing in Bangkok over 11 years ago. Her case against five police officers she believes were involved in the abduction of Somchai, who represented suspected Southern insurgents in their claims of police brutality, was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Dec 29. Despite this, she continues to struggle with authority, and was recently elected onto the Thailand National Human Rights Commission. 

I wasn’t devastated when the Supreme Court dismissed Somchai’s case. After fighting for justice for 11 years and 10 months, there is no point in feeling outraged. It doesn’t help anything. Yes, I have doubts about our justice system, but I want to focus more on the mistakes made during this case and to collect evidence concisely for another criminal case which the Department of Special Investigation [DSI] will oversee. 
 
It’s a lie that everyone is equal. The law might say so but the reality in Thailand is quite different. Your average citizen will immediately be DNA tested if they are a suspect, but not a single one of the five policemen in my husband’s case had their DNA tested to see if it matched the evidence found in my abducted husband’s car.
 
I still believe that Somchai was disappeared because of his fight against the administration, often with policemen. Before he disappeared, he was helping suspects from the Southern insurgency who were beaten into confessions by police. Two of the five suspects in this case were actually the same men who beat them.
 
I had no idea what to do when he disappeared. I was just a housewife. None of the families of people who’d been “disappeared” had tried to do anything before so I had no example to learn from. 
 
I knew right away that I could not be silenced. Media headlines branded Somchai as Tanai Jone [bandit lawyer] and even Thaksin Shinawatra [who was in power back then] gave an interview saying that Somchai might have run away because of an argument with me. 
 
I studied nursing during the Thammasat University massacre on October 6, 1976, and interned at Somdet Chaopraya Institute of Psychiatry a couple of years later, treating students and journalists who still suffered trauma from those events. One of them even climbed a tree screaming, “Go hide! The helicopter is going to shoot you!”
 
I was so stressed when Somchai went missing that I thought I would breakdown just like the people in that ward. 
 
I never thought I would come as far as the National Human Rights Commission. I founded Justice for Peace Foundation a decade ago, documenting 40 cases of forced disappearances in Thailand as a database for other victims’ families to learn what to do about cases like these. I’m thankful that the disappearance of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen last April has made people and the media more aware of the issue. It was never like that before. 
 
A DSI witness from the South disappeared shortly after my husband when he tried to visit his family. One year later his wife was shot, leaving their two children with their 80-year-old grandma. 
 
Now I want to work on improving human rights, especially in the South, where there is a lot of unjust treatments from the administration.