Court grants temporary release to two hunger strikers

Thailand’s Criminal Court granted temporary release to two hunger strikers today (Tuesday), at the request of the director of Thammasat University Hospital, claiming that their health has deteriorated to a life-threatening level due to high levels of b…

Thailand’s Criminal Court granted temporary release to two hunger strikers today (Tuesday), at the request of the director of Thammasat University Hospital, claiming that their health has deteriorated to a life-threatening level due to high levels of blood ketone and a reduction of kidney function.

Separate requests for the temporary release of Tantawan Tuatulanon, aka “Tawan”, and Orawan Phuphong, aka “Bam’, were submitted to the Criminal Court today by the director of the hospital.

Both have been treated by the hospital for more than two weeks now, but they are still, technically, being held on remand after they voluntarily revoked their own bail and were sent into the Central Women’s Correctional Institute.

The hospital director said in the application for release that the hunger strikers are in a critical condition and they are not physically strong enough to continue to be held on remand.

Both are facing multiple charges, including lèse majesté.

In the case of Tantawan, the court granted her release for one month on the grounds that keeping her in detention, under the care of corrections officials, may pose an impediment to the rehabilitation of the detainee.

In the case of Orawan, the hospital director reasoned that her further detention may result in her death, as her health has deteriorated severely, with high levels of blood ketone and declining function of the kidneys.

The court granted her temporary release without bail.

The two hunger strikers, however, expressed surprise at the court’s order to free them without bail, because they didn’t want to be freed to start with, but have demanded, through their hunger strike, the release of the other political prisoners and detainees, according to a statement from the Taluwang protest group.

The two have vowed not to sign any court documents regarding their release and have asked the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights organisation to send them copies of the court’s decisions.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court has rejected the bail requests for eight detainees of the Talugas protest group, claiming that they were charged with serious offences involving the use of explosives and that they might attempt to escape if they were to be bailed out.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Woman arrested with equipment for forging visas

Thai immigration police arrested a woman and seized several items of equipment used for making counterfeit visas today (Monday), in a raid on a condo in Bangkok’s Khannayao district.The arrest of the woman, identified only as “Angsana”, and the seizure…

Thai immigration police arrested a woman and seized several items of equipment used for making counterfeit visas today (Monday), in a raid on a condo in Bangkok’s Khannayao district.

The arrest of the woman, identified only as “Angsana”, and the seizure of fake passports and forging equipment, which included ink, pens and seals, is a follow-up operation by immigration police after a number of foreigners were found with fake visas as they were leaving Thailand.

Angsana was charged with conspiring with other people to falsify visas. An investigation found that the fake visas were probably from the same source, a company in the Bueng Kum area, which provides a service applying for visas for foreigners.

Armed with a warrant, the immigration police searched the company’s premises and found 700 passports, several of them hidden above the ceiling of the first-floor office. 124 fake passports were found to contain fake visas.

An employee at the company was also held for questioning.

Immigration police said that foreigners who have overstayed in Thailand sought help from brokers, who then contacted the company specialising in falsifying visas.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Region Humanitarian Situation Report No. 4 (1 October – 31 December 2022)

In 2022, UNICEF provided access to primary health care for 4,161,790 children and women and vaccinated 27,041,501 children against measles.A total of 958,035 children and caregivers were also supported in accessing mental health and psychosocial suppor…

In 2022, UNICEF provided access to primary health care for 4,161,790 children and women and vaccinated 27,041,501 children against measles.

A total of 958,035 children and caregivers were also supported in accessing mental health and psychosocial support and 98,338 women, girls and boys in accessing gender-based violence risk mitigation, prevention or response interventions.

UNICEF supported 327,041 schools to implement safe school protocols and 8,737,376 children with access to formal or non-formal education.

UNICEF also provided 1,230,497 children with safe and appropriate WASH facilities and hygiene services in learning facilities and safe spaces.

Regional Funding Overview

In 2022, UNICEF appealed for US$ 118.8 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children, adolescents and women affected by emergencies, including chronic, protracted humanitarian situations as well as UNICEF’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region. As of 31 December 2022, a total of US$ 73.45 million was received against the 2022 HAC (including US$ 49.13 million carried over from 2021 and US$ 24.32 million received in 20221) from both public and private donors. UNICEF acknowledges and is thankful for the generous contribution of donors supporting this joint effort to respond and mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies in the EAP region. Please refer to Annex B and Annex C for more detailed information on funding per functional area and country.

Regional Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to be reported in EAP, the majority of reported cases had been of mild to moderate levels, thanks to increasing vaccination rates throughout the region. Nevertheless, new variants of the virus continued to surge, causing new waves of COVID cases. At the same time, the resumption of disrupted access to essential health, nutrition, and social services remained slow and declines in household incomes continued during the reporting period.

Due to the pandemic, several countries had postponed routine vaccination campaigns, increasing the risk of outbreaks of life-threatening diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio. An estimated 1.7 million children in EAP continue to be affected by severe wasting. Furthermore, access to life-saving WASH services was disrupted for millions of people as service providers struggled with staff health and safety concerns and financial difficulties. Education needs are even more urgent due to the extended school closures combined with insufficient distance learning. UNESCO estimates that 4 per cent of students in the region are at risk of dropping out as a result of the prolonged school closures. A combined approach of supporting vaccine roll-out while continuing to focus on efforts to respond to the social-economic impacts of the pandemic remains critical to save lives and alleviate suffering, especially for children.

Natural hazards, civil unrest, displacement and protracted conflicts also continue to impact the lives of children across East Asia and the Pacific (EAP). In several countries, recurring natural disasters, including those induced by climate crises, constrain the socio-economic recovery from the pandemic. Typhoon Rai, which swept through the Philippines on 16 December 2021, heightened the vulnerability of children and their families who had already been struggling to cope with the devastating consequences of COVID-19. The refugee sea crossings to Southeast Asia, mostly of Rohingya people, increased substantially in 2022 compared to 2020 and 2021, with hundreds reported deceased, including women and children due to starvation and dehydration. The aggravated situation has resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis. In Myanmar, the continuing armed conflict and targeted violence, coupled with the presence of COVID-19, continues to push a growing number of children into a situation of humanitarian needs. Further details on the situation in the Philippines and Myanmar can be found in separate situation reports dedicated to their respective UNICEF HAC appeals.

Source: UN Children’s Fund

Anti-establishment activist wants EM tag removed, like actress “Pinky”

An anti-establishment political activist sought permission from the Criminal Court to have the electronic monitoring (EM) tag removed from his ankle today (Wednesday), after the court granted permission yesterday for a similar device to be removed from…

An anti-establishment political activist sought permission from the Criminal Court to have the electronic monitoring (EM) tag removed from his ankle today (Wednesday), after the court granted permission yesterday for a similar device to be removed from actress Savika Chaiyadej, aka “Pinky”.

Panupong Jadnok said that, since the court decided to remove Savika’s device, he should be granted the same privilege, although both of them were indicted on different charges.

Savika, who is currently released on bail on fraud charges related to the Forex 3-D Ponzi scheme, sought permission from the Criminal Court for the removal of EM tag, claiming that it poses an impediment to her show business career and her travel.

The court granted permission on a temporary basis, on condition that she will seek permission again the next time she is scheduled to report to the court, as required under the bail conditions.

Another political activist, who was also ordered to wear an EM device after she was granted bail by the Criminal Court, Chonthicha Jaengrew, described the EM device as a symbol of a distorted justice system.

She said that she has not yet been found guilty of the charges against her, but the court ordered her to wear the EM device.

Chonthicha plans to contest the next election in Pathum Thani Province, under the banner of the Move Forward Party.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Suu Kyi Portraits, Flags and Chants as Bangkok Hosts Myanmar Anti-Coup Protest

BANGKOK — Several hundred Myanmar pro-democracy protesters gathered outside their country’s embassy in Bangkok Wednesday, two years after a coup by a junta that has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes and military massacres, and now wants to ho…

BANGKOK — Several hundred Myanmar pro-democracy protesters gathered outside their country’s embassy in Bangkok Wednesday, two years after a coup by a junta that has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes and military massacres, and now wants to hold elections across a broken nation.

Shouting slogans, waving flags of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government and holding portraits of their jailed democracy heroine, Aung San Suu Kyi, the demonstrators made a loud but peaceful statement of their anger at a junta which seized power on February 1, 2021, throwing the country into violent chaos.

“We are together, we are united, and I think the people will win in the end,” said Aung Sen, a 25-year-old from Myanmar’s Sagaing region, who left the country after the coup.

Thailand hosts around 2 million migrant workers from Myanmar, according to the Labor Ministry, with their ranks boosted by people fleeing the coup for work and safety in the neighboring country.

Like many, Aung Sen vowed to boycott any elections held under junta rules, which critics say fall well below the standards of genuine democracy.

“We will not vote in the junta elections or participate in anything with them until they free Daw Suu Kyi — our leader — and our friends,” he added, using a title of respect for Suu Kyi.

Led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta seized power claiming that voter fraud drove the landslide November 2020 election win of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party at the expense of military-aligned parties. The allegations have never been substantiated.

The military leader wants to end a nationwide rebellion and hold elections. But the election laws published last week say no parties or personalities linked to “terrorist” forces can take part — the government has labeled the pro-democracy resistance as terrorists, while Suu Kyi is behind bars.

Min Aung Hlaing has failed to convince the country of the army’s right to rule and faces a stubborn, wide-ranging rebellion by an alliance of often young pro-democracy activists and well-armed ethnic rebel groups.

Suu Kyi, 77, has been jailed while rights groups say around 2,600 pro-democracy protesters have been killed by the junta since the coup, with thousands more detained including teachers, medical workers and minors.

Over 1 million people have been internally displaced since the coup, the United Nations says, with hundreds of thousands more fleeing for safety or work into neighboring countries.

Many of them are young men and women running from the threat of arrest or seeking to find an income for their families as Myanmar’s economy falls apart.

“I’m sad, life’s been hard since the coup,” said Ko Ko, a 30-year-old who also fled to Thailand after the coup. “Min Aung Hlaing is an awful man.”

The coup wiped out a decade of small but incremental economic and democratic gains in a Southeast Asian nation that the military has controlled for the majority of the seven decades since independence from British colonizers.

Rights groups have urged the outside world, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to increase pressure on the military leadership.

Several Western nations introduced new sanctions — including on the provision of fuel for Myanmar’s air force — in a message timed with the coup anniversary.

A joint statement also released by the U.S. State Department on behalf of foreign ministers from the EU, U.K. and New Zealand, among many others condemned the junta’s crackdown and demanded a return to genuine democracy.

“There are mounting reports that air strikes, bombardments and the mass burning of villages and places of worship have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure. Reports of torture and sexual violence by the security forces are widespread,” the statement, published on the eve of the coup anniversary, said.

“We reiterate our call for the return of Myanmar to a democratic path. The military regime must end violence and create space for meaningful and inclusive dialogue to allow for any democratic process to resume.”

But in a sign of the complexity of forging a united diplomatic front on Myanmar, China has refused to condemn its ally at the U.N., Russia has increased arms sales to the junta, and companies from Singapore to the EU remain engaged with the junta-run economy.

“While the junta’s reign of terror continues, the people of Myanmar’s resistance never stops.” advocacy group Fortify Rights tweeted. “U.N. member states should support the people and deny the junta access to: Finance, Weapons, Political Legitimacy.”

For those forced to flee, it has been two years of pain and loss watching their country burn and worrying about families left behind.

“All dreams and plans are broken already,” said one 29-year-old Myanmar self-exile in Thailand, requesting anonymity over emigration status concerns.

“I feel guilty that I left the country but I’m supporting the people from where I am [in] the safest way. I won’t stop until the revolution wins.”

Source: Voice of America

Actress breaks silence on police extortion, 7 Huai Khwang officers axed

Taiwanese actress Charlene An, who is at the centre of a Thai police extortion scandal, broke her silence about her traumatic experience in Thailand in an interview with Taiwanese media and on social media in Taiwan last week.According to the Metropoli…

Taiwanese actress Charlene An, who is at the centre of a Thai police extortion scandal, broke her silence about her traumatic experience in Thailand in an interview with Taiwanese media and on social media in Taiwan last week.

According to the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB), the actress, travelling in a car, was stopped at a road checkpoint, in front of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok, by a group of Huai Khwang police officers for a search on the night of January 5th. The officers claimed they found an electronic cigarette in her possession.

It is alleged that the police extorted 27,000 baht from her in return for letting her go without charge. Her Singaporean boyfriend reportedly paid the money to the police who divided it among them.

The seven Huai Khwang police officers, implicated in the extortion scandal, were transferred today (Tuesday). The transfer order, issued by the commander of the 2nd division of the MPB, accused the seven officers of dereliction of duty for setting the Taiwanese actress free after they found an electronic cigarette in her possession.

Their transfer came one day after their superintendent was abruptly moved to the operations centre of the MPB.

Charlene An explained in her Facebook post, saying that the Thai police lied about her owning the electronic cigarette, claiming that it was put in her hand by the police themselves and they then photographed her.

She also claimed that she never drinks alcohol and that the “bad” Thai police now want to use her to “whitewash” themselves. She also challenged the police to release the images from the CCTV system in front of the Chinese Embassy.

Whistle blower Chuwit Kamolvisit claims, however, that the footage from the CCTV system and from the police bodycam have already been erased.

On Instagram, the actress asked “Why the twisted truth and lies? I sincerely thank you all for your concern and encouragement. I have agreed to a final interview with the media. I will be sharing details of my traumatic experience in Thailand for the final time……”

The Thai Metropolitan Police Bureau yesterday offered a public apology for the Huai Khwang police’s alleged misconduct, by letting the actress go without charging her, but declined to admit that the police had extorted money from her.

In his Facebook post, Chuwit offered an apology to Charlene An, hoping that Taiwanese people will forgive and will continue to visit Thailand. He also vowed to follow up this scandal and to carry on with his exposure of police misconduct.

Chuwit also revealed an audio clip of his interview with the actress’s Singaporean boyfriend, who claimed to have paid 27,000 baht to the Huai Khwang police on her behalf.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Court rejects bail applications for 10 political prisoners and detainees

The Criminal Court has rejected bail applications for ten “political” prisoners and detainees on the grounds that most of them have been charged with serious offenses, which range from possession of explosives, arson and causing damage to public proper…

The Criminal Court has rejected bail applications for ten “political” prisoners and detainees on the grounds that most of them have been charged with serious offenses, which range from possession of explosives, arson and causing damage to public property to inciting unrest and lèse majesté, during their protests last year.

Anti-establishment protesters gathered in front of the Criminal Court this morning, later moving to the Bangkok Art and Culture Gallery, to continue rallying public support for the release from jail of 12 prisoners and detainees, as lawyer Kittisak Kongthong applied for bail for them.

One of those jailed, Pornpote, has already had bail applications rejected several times for fear that he might jump bail and because the charges against him, which include possession and use of explosives, are serious.

In the case of another, Sitthichoke, who was sentenced to a total of seven and a half years by the Criminal Court, the lawyer proposed to post 150,000 baht to bail him out, which was rejected. The court has decided to refer this case to the Appeals Court.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

Man dies in front of Criminal Court while demanding release of political prisoners

An elderly man, who had been protesting in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok for the past couple of days demanding the release of all political detainees and prisoners, collapsed and died today (Sunday).Some protesters claim that Phairote Chotesri…

An elderly man, who had been protesting in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok for the past couple of days demanding the release of all political detainees and prisoners, collapsed and died today (Sunday).

Some protesters claim that Phairote Chotesriphanporn fainted and hit his head on the concrete pavement in front of the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court. Others, said that he was sitting at a bus stop in front of the court when he collapsed.

Other protesters rushed to his aid before rushing him to Rajavithi Hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Anti-establishment protesters, led by Chatupat Boonpattararaksa, rallied at the Bangkok Art and Culture Gallery at about 9am, before moving to the court to join another group, led by Kittisak Kongthong.

They said that they wanted to post bail for 12 of the political detainees and prisoners, adding that they expect the court to respond to their request.

The group said that they will not, however, post bail for Tantawan Tuatulanon, Orawan Phuphong and two others who have said that they do not want to be bailed out.

Tantawan and Orawan are currently being treated at Thammasat University Hospital, after falling ill during their hunger strike in the Central Women’s Correctional Institute.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service