Diakonia - People change the world
Naseh Yapa has been imprisoned, accused of obstructing a soldier on duty.

Dedicated to the development of her village

Since more than 30 years, Naseh Yapa has been fighting for the right to land and legal status for herself and her community. Today EVERYONE in her village has received both citizenship and the rights to the land where they had been living since generations.


Naseh Yapa is a strong woman and a human rights activist. Ever since late 1999, she has bravely fought for the right to civil status and right to land for herself and her community. Now, everyone in the village has received both citizenship and land titles.

Conflicts with soldiers were common

Naseh Yapa belongs to the ethnic minority Lahu and she lives in a village located in the mountains on the border with Myanmar. Because of its remoteness, people in the village used to lack legal status in Thailand and they did not have rights to the land where they had been living for generations. Conflicts between villagers and soldiers in the area were common, and the villagers were often falsely accused of drug trading.

Insisted on their legal rights

But the villagers insisted on their legal rights and in 1999 they turned to the local authorities for registration of their land. However, since they lacked legal status in Thailand this was a dead end.

In the meantime, the conflict between the villagers and the soldiers escalated and Naseh Yapa was sent to prison for seven months, accused of obstructing a soldier on duty.  

Learned how to negotiate

With the help of Diakonia’s partner IMPECT, Inter Mountain People’s Education and Culture in Thailand, Naseh Yapa was able to take part in a training session about human rights. She also learnt how to negotiate with the authorities and to how to protect and claim legal rights in any legal process.  Now she is a leader of her own community but she is also active in committees and councils working for the rights of ethnic people in Thailand.

Involved in local politics

Furthermore, she is involved in local politics, working on the challenges of the village’s development. She wants to maintain the community’s traditional knowledge and culture, and promote gender equality. And whenever people in the village need support, they come to Naseh Yapa.