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Updated: 36 นาที 39 วินาที ago

Former princess confirmed as PM candidate

Fri, 2019-02-08 09:49
Submitted on Fri, 2019-02-08 09:49Prachatai

On 8 February 2019, the first time in Thailand’s political history, Former Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, has confirmed the invitation to be the PM candidate.

 


Princess Ubolratana

Today, Lieutenant Preechapol Pongpanich, the leader of Thai Raksa Chart Party (TRC), handed a list of PM candidate to the Election Commission of Thailand with a name of Ubolratana in it. He told the press that she confirms the invitation. 

"Everything is in accordance with the law and the constitution," Preechapol said at the press conference this morning, "it is up to the Thai people to decide."


Preechapol Pongpanich, the leader of Thai Raksa Chart Party (TRC)
told the press that Ubolratana Mahidol confirms the invitation

Ubolranata is the eldest child of the late King Bhumibol and sister of King Vajiralongkorn. She renounced her titles in 1972 to marry fellow MIT student Peter Ladd Jensen. The couple lived together in the US until 1998 when she divorced Jensen. Ubolratana returned to Thailand in 2001 and resumed her participation in royal life. 

This is the first time in Thailand history since its democratic revolution in 1932 that a member of higher royal family officially seeks a position in politics.

            Updates will follow soon...

News2019 general election
Categories: Prachatai English

Only following orders

Thu, 2019-02-07 17:47
Submitted on Thu, 2019-02-07 17:47Harrison George

In the case of Hakeem al-Araibi, the Thai government claims that its hands are tied.  They can do nothing.  They are only following the law, protocol, the judicial process – anything but justice and common sense.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 6 February which absolved themselves of all responsibility.  Once they received the Interpol red notice (since withdrawn as invalid) and the request for extradition from Bahrain, ‘legal proceedings in Thailand regarding Mr Hakeem had already started and could not be reversed’.

But they never had to start.

2008 Extradition Act

Section 8 … Where the Requesting State has no extradition treaty with Thailand, it shall be transmitted through the diplomatic channels. …

Section 13 Where the extradition request is submitted through the diplomatic channels, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall consider doing the followings: … if it is of the opinion that the request may affect international relations or there is other reason that the request may not be executed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall speedily propose such opinion together with the request for consideration of the Cabinet. Where the Cabinet concurs with such opinion, it shall consider making direction as deemed appropriate.

This means that the MFA must already have decided that international relations with Bahrain outweigh relations with Australia (not to mention everyone else in the world who sees the cock-up they are making of this). 

Now the Bank of Thailand doesn’t give trade figures for Bahrain.  It is lumped under ‘Middle East – Others’ at US$1,550 million in 2018.  For Australia the figure is US$16,712 million. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports also does not think the figures for tourists for Bahrain are important enough to segregate, but visitors from ‘Middle East – Others’ in September last year (latest available figures) were projected at 33,102.  The number of Australians arriving in the same month was 73,609. 

Of course it may be a bit tiresome for the MFA to go hunting up all this data to find out whether relations with Australia or Bahrain are more important to Thailand.  But they could have looked at their own Blue Book of all diplomatic missions in Thailand and discovered that the Australian Embassy has a staff of 50 plus 1 in the Phuket Consulate.  The Embassy of Bahrain has 3. 

The MFA statement goes on to say: ‘In proceeding with the legal process, the executive branch cannot interfere with the judicial process.’

They lie.

Section 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution

In the case where the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order deems necessary for the purpose of reforms in various fields, … the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, with the approval of the National Council for Peace and Order, shall have power to order, restrain, or perform any act, whether such act has legislative, executive, or judicial force; the orders and the acts, including the performance in compliance with such orders, shall be deemed lawful and constitutional under this Constitution, and shall be final.

‘Or judicial force’, you notice.  And in case you’re wondering how an Interim Constitution can still be operative:

Section 265 of the 2016 Constitution

… the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order shall continue to have the duties and powers as provided in the 2014 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim) … The provisions of the aforementioned Constitution specifically in respect of the powers of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order and the National Council for Peace and Order shall remain in force.

OK, so maybe they don’t actually have to keep Hakeem in jail for 10 months before deciding what to do with him, but there’s nothing to say they can’t send him back to Bahrain, is there? 

Well, actually there is:

Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [ratified by Thailand on 2 October 2007]

No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Ah, but how can we be sure that torture goes on in Bahraini prisons?  Take your pick:

  • Human Rights Watch issued a report in 2015 on ‘Continuing Torture and Mistreatment of Detainees in Bahrain’.
  • Amnesty International 2017/2018 Report on Bahrain: ‘There continued to be reports of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, in particular of those interrogated about terrorism-related offences.’
  • US State Department 2017 Human Rights Report on Bahrain: ‘The most significant human rights issues included … allegations of torture of detainees and prisoners; harsh and potentially life-threatening conditions of detention …’

Even the Bahraini government has acknowledged torture.  It set up its own Independent Commission of Inquiry in 2011 to look into allegations of torture and other human rights violations.  It concluded ‘Many detainees were subjected to torture and other forms of physical and psychological abuse while in custody’.

‘Only following orders’ was discredited as a defence at Nuremberg in 1946.  Why should it still work in Thailand in 2019?

About author: Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).

Alien ThoughtsHakeem al-AraibiextraditionBahrainAustraliaMinistry of Foreign Affairs
Categories: Prachatai English

FFA cancels U23 trip to Thailand in support of Hakeem al-Araibi; MFA claims they are only following protocol

Thu, 2019-02-07 16:40
Submitted on Thu, 2019-02-07 16:40

Yesterday (6 February 2019), Football Federation Australia (FFA) issued a statement saying that it has cancelled a proposed trip to Thailand for the under 23 men’s national team, part of its preparation for the 2020 AFC U23 qualifiers in March.

     

 

Graham Arnold, Australian National Team and Under 23 Head Coach, said that the FFA will now move their pre-tournament camp to another Asian nation, and that the decision was made in response to Thailand’s ongoing detainment of footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi.

“Australia’s national teams are united in their support for Hakeem al-Araibi and we call on the community to continue to campaign for his release,” Arnold said.  

Meanwhile, international support for Hakeem is intensifying. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment wrote a joint letter to the Foreign Minister of Thailand to raise concern on Hakeem’s case. The letter, which was sent on 7 December 2018, was made public on 5 February 2019 as per the 60-day procedure, and expresses “great alarm as this case appears to be in contravention to the principle of non-refoulement as set forth in article 3 of the Convention against Torture (CAT), signed by Thailand on 1 November 2007.”

The letter also asked the Thai government to “provide information on the legal grounds for the arrest and detention of the aforementioned individual and explain how these measures are compatible with international norms and standards, as stated, inter alia, in the UDHR and the ICCPR.” It also asked that “all necessary interim measures be taken to halt the alleged violations and prevent their re-occurrence and in the event that the investigations support or suggest the allegations to be correct, to ensure the accountability of any person responsible of the alleged violations.”

OOOOO

The Australian Embassy in Thailand also issued a statement on their Facebook page Australia in Thailand on 4 February 2019, which was also delivered at Hakeem’s hearing on Monday. The statement said that the Bahraini Government knew very well that Hakeem has been living in Australia since 2014, but has never made contact with Australia or made an extradition request until he travelled to Thailand. The Australian Embassy acknowledges that “the actions of the Bahraini Government have put Thailand in a very difficult position…during what is an important year for the people and country of Thailand.”

“The Government of Australia would like Hakeem al-Araibi to be returned to Australia as soon as possible. He is a refugee and permanent resident of Australia,” said the statement. “Hakeem is a loved football player for Pascoe Vale FC and has football fans across the country. We hope that Hakeem will be able to go back to be with his family and his wife in the coming days.”

          

 

Thailand “become involved in this case by chance,” MFA statement claims

The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 5 February 2019, saying that Thailand has not been previously aware of Hakeem’s case and does not gain anything from holding him in custody. The statement claims that Thailand “has no other legitimate option” but to cooperate in accordance with the law. Thailand would also like to suggest that Australia and Bahrain discuss the case and find a solution together.

MFA deputy permanent-secretary Thani Thongpakdi also said at the press briefing yesterday that the Thai authorities was only following protocol. The Australian Interpol alerted both Thailand and Bahrain about Hakeem’s red notice and his trip to Thailand, and Bahrain subsequently made a formal request for his provisional arrest, so the Thai authorities detained him. Despite the absence of a bilateral agreement between Thailand and Bahrain, the Bahraini authorities can still make an extradition request in accordance with the Extradition Act of 2008. The Thai authorities must consider such a request and may act based on the principle of reciprocity and cooperation.

Thani also said that the situation did not change when Interpol lifted Hakeem’s red notice a few days after his arrest, since the extradition process has already been activated with the Bahraini government made a formal request to Thailand and submission of the required documents. The formal request from Bahrain, said Thani, is also enough ground for the Thai authorities to arrest Hakeem, with or without the Interpol red notice.

Thani claimed that Thailand no longer has the authority to release Hakeem. Since the case is now in court, no other branch of government can interfere with the judicial process, but once the court has reached a verdict, Hakeem and his attorneys have the right to appeal, and the executive branch may also interfere.

Related

Hakeem has been in detention since his arrest on 27 November 2018. After appearing at his extradition hearing on 4 February, he will remain at Bangkok Remand Prison until the next scheduled hearing on 22 April. His attorneys now have until 5 April to file a written appeal.

 

NewsHakeem al-Araibi
Categories: Prachatai English

[Infographic] Thai Politics after the Election: Pessimistic Scenarios

Thu, 2019-02-07 15:30
Submitted on Thu, 2019-02-07 15:30Prachatai

The Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) has announced that the election will be held on 24 March 2019. The constitution says that the ECT must deliver the 95% of the election results within 150 days after the organic law on election came into force on 11 December 2018. To prevent legal complications, the ECT plans to announce the election results by 9 May 2019. It therefore claims that the possibility of overturning the election is very unlikely.

However, contemporary Thai political history of points out that overturning or postponing elections happens quite often. For instance, the Constitutional Court dissolved the elected People’s Power Party in 2008, paving the way for a government under the Democrats, who has lost the 2007 election. The mob obstructed the election in 2014. The coup followed, and promised an election that was postponed 6 times.

Today, the NCPO still has Article 44 at its disposal, meaning that it has absolute legal power to do anything, even though they are constrained by other factors. The organic law also contradicts the constitution as it says that 150-day timeframe applies to holding the election, not announcing the results. Unless the election result can be made official on 9 May 2019, the constitutional court may intervene to rule if the election is unconstitutional.

Prachatai summarizes pessimistic scenarios of what may happen in Thai politics between the election date and the formation of a new government.  

Infographic2019 general electionArticle44 and Order (NCPO)Constitution Court
Categories: Prachatai English

Why we can NOT go to a third country!

Tue, 2019-02-05 20:27
Submitted on Tue, 2019-02-05 20:27Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul

Disclaimer: The story written here is my personal opinion as one of the first wave of ‘refugees’ after the coup in 2014 who fled our homeland to an adjacent neighbouring country. This story may have an attitude, and comments, some positive and some negative, from one ordinary person who has no status in the struggle with the red shirt movement. I am not a political activist, just one citizen who was hit by a political storm and put in jail for 3 years, 3 months and 15 days on a charge under Article 112.

After the coup by NCPO government in May 2014, I and some of my friends involved in the political movement on the red shirt side made the decision that we had to flee Thailand to save our lives. At that time, we all had the intention to go to a third country from the beginning. We needed to go to a second country first. Only then could we think about how to go a third country.

After we successfully fled our home country to a new land (Country 2.0), it was like a weight lifted from our chest, a feeling of being reborn. For many weeks, we had to hide out of fear of being arrested and hunted down, so much that we couldn’t eat or sleep. Once we were out of Thailand, we could breathe easier.

At the time, news about our escape spread among those who faced the same fate as us. So the gathering of people fleeing death in Country 2.0 came about.

My group consisted of some of my friends who escaped together, and found another group (one of them is Ittipon ‘D.J. Sunho’ Sukpaen, who had come earlier). We decided to rent a place together and started advising each other from then on. We had no thoughts at all about staying in Country 2.0 because we all knew about the danger on our lives … because it was too close. At that time, we more or less decided each on our different destinations.

Political asylum seekers fled to neighbor country.

Our little sister Aum Neko had the aim of going to France.

D.J. Sunho, as far as I know, has a mother in Japan, but planned to seek refuge in the United States. Sunho was more prepared than others because he had his mother in a foreign country and relatives in the United States as an asset.

For me at that time, I was looking at two places: Canada, or if not, Australia, because I wasn’t worried about my English which is good enough for survival.

In conclusion, to go to a third country, for us the only way is filing a request with the UNHCR in Country 2.1!

The others were mostly ordinary villagers who “did not dare” think of seeking refuge anywhere. They were already very glad just to be able to run away from Thailand. But they would not refuse if they got support to go to a third country. They were ready to go with us. They said if we go, we go together.

Our daily lives at that time were mostly spent going back and forth to the internet café to contact our family, friends, and the big shots who might be able to help make it easy for us to get to a third country quickly. We would go out as a group and before bed, consult each other about the progress of each of us each day.

Among us, Aum, who aimed to go to France, seemed to have a chance to go first. Aum told us that she contacted someone in another neighbouring country (Country 2.1) and Aum got the green light before anybody. When Aum got confirmation to go to Country 2.1, we were all glad because everything seemed to go smoothly like we had expected. All of us congratulated Aum and waited for her success be the first one to travel to a third country.

It is generally known, especially regarding refugees, that in order to go to a third country, we must go Country 2.1 first because that country has a UNHCR office. Many people used this method.  In fact, we tried to find other alternatives, but in the end, we settled on this one.

In conclusion, to go to a third country, for us the only way is filing a request with the UNHCR in Country 2.1!

After Aum got to Country 2.1 OK, we persisted in our wait for hope. But because waiting takes time and we had the burden of living expenses.  Because we lived in a hotel on a daily basis, our money slowly began to run out. So we decided to pool our money to rent a house to stay in while waiting. 

Then we got the first house. This house could accommodate a dozen people. We saved a lot of money. Once we got this house, many people started moving in including ‘an actor student’ and ‘a northeastern university student’ who shared our shelter, still waiting like us.

Soon after, the news was reported that Aum, that white-haired professor, and Acharn J., the former human rights commissioner, had obtained refugee status in France. This news made us feel very happy, because it took so many months that we almost lost hope.

After the news, the first to make a move was the group of Sunho, Tito, and the actor student, who invested time in sending documents through channels we thought possible.

But Tito was the first to take the decision to move from Country 2 to a third country, but in the end he failed. Tito bought a one-way ticket and was deported back while waiting for a connecting flight in Country 2.2 (getting ready to board the fight to the third country). He had to go back to Country 2.0 because he used up so much money. (About Tito, I was just a coordinator of some of it. The story might be partly incorrect, but not much.  If it is wrong, I am sorry.)

Next was Sunho, who later on ended his role making underground radio programmes. He used a way that I had chosen earlier, which is to be a trader, make a honest living out of selling. I was very glad at that time because we could go back to talking just like before without advantage or conflict – just good intentions toward each other under our new status as traders, small businessmen of a similar kind. At that time, Sunho chose to sell jars of fermented fish. He made, packaged, and went around the villages selling the products himself and earned a lot of money.

Sunho had a chance to go to Country 2.1 to request refugee status (he had a good relationship with a big shot, who may have given him the green light and was able to travel easily). But without explanation, Sunho came back to Country 2.0. (It might be because waiting for refugee status in Country 2.1 takes a long time, so he decided to come back first to wait until the process was complete then go again. I came up with this myself.)

But who could have known that Sunho would never be able to go there again after coming back? Because not long after that, it was reported in the news that he had been disappeared. And he was the first to disappear from the history of our struggle.

Disappeared… and no coming back!


DJ. Sunho disappeared and no coming back.

"If you are not very well-connected, don’t even think or dream of going there!!"

The news about Sunho’s disappearance terrified many of us, especially those who were still active underground. At that time, those of us who had been staying in the same house, split in different directions. That was called the “house break-up.” As my friends knew, I decided to end my role in the campaign to set down a base, make a living, to make my family happy. Those who still wanted to remain active, we could not force them to do anything.

But as there was still activism, it caused trouble for most of us, because the big shots ordered us to stop, every time there was news about state officials from Thailand coming to the country where we were staying.

Those who were doing business at that time, with or without a shop front, were ordered to close by the big shots and hide for many days. Once the big shots thought it was safe, we were allowed to trade again.

When the business had been ordered closed many times, I and my friend (who has a wife who has been through both good and bad times with him), decided to make request for refugee status, because we could not bear a business that kept opening and closing.

Then, it was my turn to ask the big shots to request refugee status through Country 2.1. The answer was “there is no available accommodation” and there was financial support even enough to live in Country 2.0, which was very little. I thought that if we went, we still could not stay there because where could we get anything to eat while waiting for approval?    

Travelling to Country 2.1 cost a lot of money - tens of thousands of baht, because we had to rent a car, hire a driver, hire a security guard and pay for other miscellaneous expenses. It also takes more than 10 hours. This is just to cross border to Country 2.1. Travel within Country 2.1 is an extra cost and who knows how much. And when we got there, how would we live, who would we stay with, and would there be anyone responsible for us and to support us? None of this was clear at all!

If you are not very well-connected, don’t even think or dream of going there!!

Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul

After I and my friend got the answer from the big shot in Country 2.1 refusing to guarantee accommodation for us, we felt we were at the end of the road for any more struggle, because what we had tried was the only way to get help to go to a third country. I was still pretty fine, because at that time I had a way to make a living (in fact, I did not think of going anywhere because I wanted to stay close to my child -waiting for the chance for my child and family to visit from time to time.) But my friend was very worried. In the end, we accepted it, gave up the fight to get to Country 2.1, and focussed on making a living in the belief that “if we don’t campaign, we will be safe to some degree.”

"Stop encouraging them to fight. If you truly love them, wouldn’t it be better to advocate getting them to a third country first?

And this is our idea and approach among the many who live here. Everybody can still live here peacefully until now. From the first step across the border from our homeland until now, a few months before 5th anniversary of our exile. Tens of us have overcome obstacles, good and bad times. Misunderstanding each other, arguing with each other, hating each other, not talking or supporting each other, this happens to a lot of us and many groups.

But believe me, no one is happy or grateful when losing a friend who has struggled through thick and thin with us!! The passing away of our friends who shared the same fate, from the first until now, hurts all of us. But in my opinion, it is all about “carelessness” which I do not want to talk about in detail, because of my respect for 5 friends of mine who passed away. (People here all know I what I mean.)

Personally, I think we can choose the best way for ourselves (it’s what I call “learning to survive”). In my case, I chose to end my activism, take a job, and make a living. Those who remain active should find a way to save themselves as much as possible with “precautions.” It’s just what it is.

But it is not an easy thing, fighting an extremely powerful dictator. So, the best way for the activist group, safer than staying in Country 2 is to seek asylum in a third country no matter what!

In the story above, I have given a summary about each of my friends requesting asylum in a third country from the information I have. It could be summarized again as follows.

We have not got support to seek asylum in a third country because I did not get support to go to Country 2.1.

Those of us who remain have no reputation, and have no one to support us to be considered even to stay in Country 2.1 to seek asylum.  We have never had the chance.

We all came into Country 2 without evidence, without any documents, without any rights or you could say without even a presence in this land. A certain group here relies for its basic income on the big shots’ financial support, which is very little. Monthly house rent, food and other expenses, are nowhere near enough, let alone the expense of going somewhere else (but those who have a job, a business, in commerce or agriculture, tend to suffer less). So making a move to seek asylum has not been in our thoughts at all. Daily survival alone is already hard enough.

The story above explains why we can’t go to a third country. We have tried, but there is no “host.” With the power we have, we cannot really do anything, and we do not know either who can be a “host” for us. I have to leave this matter as a question for the big shots and the people who follow the news about us whether there is any way in which we can receive help.

This is the case especially for the group remaining active (6-7 lives). Now it is fairly clear that they are, I truly believe, in danger. Even if they decided to end their campaign now, it does not mean they will be safe from being hunted by their opponents!   

The solution is not to find them a new home, change location from where they used to live to a new place, provide more financial support, or even weapons or someone to guard them.

Because that is solving the consequences.  In the end if they are to stay here .. the chances are they will definitely make a mistake one day!!

Stop encouraging them to fight. If you truly love them, wouldn’t it be better to advocate getting them to a third country first?

About the writer: Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul is a former political prisoner accused of violating Article 112. After he served his sentence and after the coup, the NCPO issued a summons for Thanthawut to report, but he refused and went into exile ever since.

 

OpinionThantawut ThaweewarodomkulArticle 112Aum Nekopolitical refugee
Categories: Prachatai English

Male service workers in Thailand: the path they can’t choose.

Tue, 2019-02-05 15:51
Submitted on Tue, 2019-02-05 15:51Varuth Pongsapipatt

Originally published in Thai on the101.world
Story and photo by Varuth Pongsapipatt
Translated by Prachatai English

As the sun is setting, Silom Road is crowded with people, each with their own destination: office workers on their way home for the night, tourists heading to hotels, restaurants, and bars, hawkers going to Patpong, and finally, male sex workers heading to their workplaces scattered around Silom.

Each sex worker found a different way into the business. Most of them only take male clients, while some do take female clients and some can be either top or bottom. Some offer specific services, using their hands and/or mouth. Some have a family, a wife and a child, but become service workers out of economic necessity.

There are Thai words reflecting contempt for men who do this job at many levels, ranging from male sex worker (ผู้ชายขายบริการ), rent boy (ผู้ชายขายตัว), male prostitute (โสเภณีชาย), to the pejorative word hooker (กะหรี่)’.

Importantly, lack of recognition of the status of LGBTQ still features in the stories of male sex workers. 

Please call us “service workers”

Surong Janyam, Director of Service Workers In Group (SWING), a foundation working to promote health and rights awareness for sex workers, revealed that most of them prefer to be called ‘service worker’ since the definition of ‘sex worker’ is too shallow.

The most common view of sex work is that it’s easy. All you have to do is have sex with your client. People forget other aspects of such service work, such as serving food and drink, massage, conversation, or how to please the client.

Chamrong Phangnongyang, ex-service worker and Deputy Director of SWING, explained that the Foundation works with three groups of service workers. 1) Staff of massage parlours, such as those offering general oil massage or acupressure massage, and even ordinary massage parlours. Whether they are also sex workers depends on the specific establishment. 2) Service workers in bars or other entertainment spots, such as pubs, karaoke rooms, or go-go bars. 3) Independent service workers based in areas such as Pattaya and central Bangkok, including those who do sex work as a sideline through social media.


SWING gives information to promote health of service workers.

Chamrong said that most of them became service workers for financial reasons. Some began as waiters in bars, or as masseurs, before they realised that they could earn more through prostitution, go-go dancing, and using their bodies to satisfy a client’s sexual urges in some way. For some male workers who are already attracted to men, or who are transgender or effeminate gay men, becoming dancers, strippers, masseurs, and service workers can feel more suited to their temperament than heavy work, such as construction or other types of work.

Nevertheless, there are some male service workers who are not gay. Some of them have a family with children and chose the profession out of economic necessity. Apart from Thai workers, there are some from neighbouring countries – Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Even though most male service workers choose their profession voluntarily, it cannot be said that sex work is entirely free of human trafficking. Reports of illegal human trafficking by criminal groups still appear in the press from time to time, not to mention oppression and violence from state officials.


Service workers are provided with excercise equipments to improve attractiveness.

Anguish and Contempt

Tri (pseudonym), a former service worker now working with SWING, said there have been instances where service workers have been assaulted by foreign clients, but when they try to file a report with the police, they are not interested in the reason for the assault, but try to focus on how they met the foreigners, forcing them to confess to prostitution in order to charge them.

In addition to this, he has friends who were fined but, because they could not afford to pay, had their newly purchased mobile phones taken away. The officers told them to come to the station to get them back, but when they show up, they get brushed off.

“Someone like me extort a phone from a whore who peddles his ass like you?!” Tri related with sadness mixed with rancour what a friend of his had shouted at him by an officer.

Tri said that information about violence against male service workers is still kept secret. Even abused service workers themselves don’t feel brave enough to reveal information about their abuse, especially by state officials. Because of their gender, , officials are less likely to become as violent with female service workers women in comparison to males.


Red and blue are a favorite tone of decoration among service businesses.

This is because assaulting a woman may cause other problems for the officers, whereas for male workers, officers see them as men like them and so are more likely to use physical violence. On top of that, denial of their sexuality and negative attitudes towards service workers in Thailand cause male service workers to feel even less ready to reveal cases of assault.

From their field research and conversations with male service workers in 2014 - 2016, SWING said that there are two types of violence faced by male service workers.

  1. Physical abuse, such as
  • Pattaya volunteer police assaulting trans women for prostitution, usually near the beach
  • service workers assaulted by foreigners or their clients, in disputes over not paying the agreed charges
  • assaults by people they know, either colleagues or other people in general who dislike or despise their profession

2. Emotional abuse, such as

  • verbal abuse from volunteer police officers while they are looking for clients near the beach, after which they are then usually fined for prostitution
  • quarrels with people around them, such as friends, motorcycle drivers, hawkers, resulting from contempt for their profession, or labelling by people in the profession

Male service workers often face many forms of abuse and harassment by government officials, including being arrested for no offence, being caught and accused of causing trouble to tourists, stealing tourists’ property, or even selling drugs. This is not like female service workers who are often charged with loitering or prostitution, and pay fines to evade prosecution, or depending on the officer. 


Police forces service businesses to put up a sign 'prostitutions are prohibited' in front of every place in that area. 

Service workers who do not belong to a business generally pay a fine of 1,000 baht to officers on a regular basis - twice a day in some areas - amounting to 10,000 baht per month. The fine is based on Article 5 of the 1996 Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act, on the authority of officials, which states:

“Any person who, for the purpose of prostitution, solicits, induces, introduces herself or himself to, follows or importunes a person in a street, public place or any other place in an open and shameless manner or causes nuisance to the public, shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand baht”

Notably, this Article allows officials wide interpretation, and makes it easy for officials to prosecute service workers, even though in fact the sex service workers may not have done anything within its scope.  

While Article 5 of the 1960 Suppression of Prostitution Act had provisions about loitering or waiting in the street for the purposes of prostitution, and a penalty of 3 months in prison or a maximum fine of 1,000 baht, or both, there are no such provisions in the 1996 Act.   

So, an officer’s interpretation of “shameless manner or … nuisance to the public” becomes an accusation which can be cited and interpreted to charge and fine service workers.

Most of the time, establishments that provide sexual services pay bribes to the officers so that their business can continue without harassment. But at certain periods, in spite of the bribes, they may be asked for more. At other times when police are being re-assigned, they may suffer from officials who are play-acting to build up a record, even though they have already received the bribes.


A service worker with a tattoo.

Destination of Male Service Workers

It is early in the evening; red and purple lights twinkle on Silom Road -- another world is beginning. Bar waiters are wiping down tables and calling out for customers. Men in white tank tops and brightly coloured shorts sit around the front of massage parlours. They have been calling out for customers since the afternoon. Their dreams are kept alive by the lottery, hoping only to win a big prize every 1st and 16th day of the month to pay off their family’s debt and land, or even to open their own business.

Bo (pseudonym), a Lao service worker, a homeless man who lives and works at SWING, said that all male service workers enter the business out of economic necessity. The pay is very high compared to other work that requires the same level of qualifications.

Being a service worker does not require a high education, only confidence in your appearance. Some people started as waiters or other jobs in bars or elsewhere in the night-time entertainment industry.

“We’re transgender and we didn’t go to school. What else can we do but work as a waiter and get paid 300 baht. We have no other choice. Everyone wants money. Whatever will help us get more money, we’ll do it," Bo chatted.


Working condition of service workers.

Every evening, Bo and his friends who work at SWING will take bags containing condoms, lube, snacks, milk, and brochures advertising free health check-ups at the Foundation’s clinic, and distribute them to service workers at various places. The snacks and milk help them cut down on living costs, while condoms and lube help enable them to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.

Deep into the street lined with go-go bars and massage parlours that also offer sex as an add-on option, Foundation workers approach the service workers like meeting a friend. They exchange news about each other, gossip about clients, sigh about their families, or chat about the latest trendy soap opera.

Some service workers, especially those who work in massage parlours, often use the time in the evening before the night begins to video-call their wives and children living in their hometowns. Then comes the voice of the parlour owner calling their number, letting them know that they must end their calls and get to work.

In front of a nearby go-go bar, the bar manager, who is known to outsiders as the “mae-lao” or “mamasan”, is worshipping the household god, asking for a blessing for tonight’s business. Mae Daeng (pseudonym), a man in his 50’s, lights an incense stick on a tiny tray of food and places it at the corner of the front door, reciting a prayer. He then pours a shot of liquor and splashes it in front of the shop, believing that it will bring a full house for the night.


Mamasan, a manager of service workers.

Mae Daeng said that the service workers call the manager or the mamasans “khun mae” (“mother”) or “mae” (“mom”). Most of the “mothers” are former service workers themselves, but with age, experience, and the owner’s trust, they are promoted to “mother”, acting as bar managers. They take care of the business and look after the service workers who work for them.

Unlike massage parlours, most go-go bars or beer bars that provide sex services with service workers don’t have private rooms. A client will take out or “off” a service worker to a hotel nearby, which makes it the mamasan’s duty to follow and take care of him. If he disappears for longer than usual, the mamasans will check the safety of the male service worker right away through a network surrounding that area.

Not very far from Silom Road, alongside the skytrain station in Phaya Thai, a karaoke bar zone that hides LGBT prostitution has been fading. An owner sighs and tells the story in a bored voice that the regular customers were aged trans. The customer market has evolved into internet deals, and the system of sitting with a drink in a karaoke bar is no longer popular.

“Soon the business will close, but the state officials keep extracting [money from us] even when we do not have customers. I’d rather make a living in the countryside,” one owner of karaoke bar said and sighed.


Male service workers in Thailand: the path they can’t choose.

Three blocks from the karaoke bar, another also used to provide prostitutes for LGBT, but has now been renovated into an Isan food restaurant. A mortar, a gas stove and a pan were put in front of the shop, sending an aroma that attracts people passing by to order food in the early evening.

In other words, as customers’ behaviour changes and there other jobs they can do, mamasans, owners, and male service workers just change and disappear from the area. In the end, no one wants to use their body to make a living until they die. Many dream of going back to the place they come from and working as a farmer or having their own business.

Yet some of them cannot get that far, still moving around in sex service work until they’re old. Some of them turn into bar managers, different kinds of shop owners, and mamasans.

 

Highlightsex workersSource: https://www.the101.world/male-prostitution-in-thailand/
Categories: Prachatai English

“Don’t send me to Bahrain”: Hakeem al-Araibi given 60 days to prepare defence

Mon, 2019-02-04 19:28
Submitted on Mon, 2019-02-04 19:28Prachatai

Earlier today (4 February 2019), detained footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi appeared at his extradition hearing at the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court, after prosecutors submitted the request for his extradition on behalf of the Bahraini government last week.

(Middle) Hakeem al-Araibi (Photo from Banrasdr Photo)

His attorneys asked the court for a 60-days extension to prepare the objection. The judge gave them until 5 April to file the written appeal. The next hearing is now scheduled for 22 April.

The Guardian reported that Hakeem told the court he refused to be extradited, saying that the charges against him were politically motivated. He was convicted of vandalizing a police station and was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison, but he claimed he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged vandalism. NSP Legal Office, Hakeem’s legal representative, said that Hakeem told the court he fears his life would be in danger, and that he fears political and religious prosecution if he is returned to Bahrain.

“I’m scared. I’m scared of getting sent back to Bahrain. They could kill me. I didn’t do anything. I was playing in the Bahrain league and it was broadcast live on TV when the incident happened. Please save me. Don’t believe Bahrain. They do this to me because I’m Shia,” Hakeem told activist Nattha Mahattana. He has reportedly been imprisoned and tortured for his open criticism of the Bahraini government and for his brother’s involvement in anti-government demonstrations.

Hakeem is an UN-recognised refugee and was granted asylum in Australia. His case has since caught global attention, and international pressure from human rights groups and football federations is now intensifying. This morning’s hearing was attended by representatives from over ten embassies and international human rights organizations.

Ahead of his hearing this morning, Amnesty International called for the Thai authorities to “stop all proceedings relating to this absurd, cruel and cynical extradition request.”

“It is well known that Hakeem survived torture in Bahrain and that his relatives continue to face persecution there…He should not spend another day in detention and should be allowed home, to Melbourne, immediately,” said Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner, “the Thai government should see that Bahrain’s sole motive is to further punish Hakeem for the peaceful political opinions he expressed. He is at grave risk of unjust imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment if he is returned to Bahrain. Interpol rightly withdrew the ‘red notice’ for Hakeem, which was in breach of their own refugee protection policy.”

Since his arrest in November 2018, Hakeem has now been in jail for almost 70 days, and, since he was earlier denied bail, will be detained for a further 60 days while his attorneys prepare a defense against his extradition.

NewsHakeem al-Araibi
Categories: Prachatai English

BMA still to deal with littering after citizen resorts to superstition

Mon, 2019-02-04 17:55
Submitted on Mon, 2019-02-04 17:55Prachatai

An active citizen who resorted to superstition to deal with a pile of garbage has reported that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) says it will address the problem.

On 28 January 2019, Methus Kaewsaikao, a courageous citizen, took action to solve the problem of a pile of trash littering the mouth of Soi Lat Phrao 62. By placing offerings to worship the spirit of a fire hydrant and in turn creating a sacred space to deter littering, his method proved to be temporarily effective.

And now there have been several updates. On 29 January, he posted on Facebook:

“Just in: the BMA will deal with that area. Details are still unknown whether they will fence it in or put a garbage bin in the area. (I have heard that they will add more large garbage disposal facilities to the 7 already there.)
 

To be frank, the shrine still doesn’t work – as I posted earlier, we still cannot declare a victory. I intended to get it shared but did not think that it would really go viral – as you can observe if my post is set to public or friends only, I call that one a campaign.
 

So that ends the 20-year problem of Soi Lat Phrao 62, grand finale for the fire hydrant spirit. If anyone wants to copy, please feel free to do so.”

The post received many comments. Methus also mentioned Kob Passara Nitithammawut who reported that someone has used the same method and is waiting for the results:

 

“I like it! Usually the area will be covered by a pile of trash tossed by people from the market. Liquid from the trash is very, very smelly and dirty. When the rain season comes, it’s the worst! I would never walk through the area. It also bothers people waiting for the bus or going to the ATM here. But today a shrine has been set up here, and the area round about has become spanking clean. Tomorrow I will come to see if any trash has been dumped there.

Later on, Methus also posted in an update that the fire hydrant has been repainted by the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority. It looks as new as ever. But the pile of trash is still there:

“Answer: The Waterworks Authority has got there first. It’s been repainted beautifully. I must thank the Waterworks Authority for their concern about this problem. The spirit is a lot more colourful, but the pile of trash is still there.”

Prachatai English congratulates Methus on his great progress and hopes that the problem is dealt with soon.

Newssuperstition
Categories: Prachatai English

Thailand: Throw out extradition case against refugee Hakeem Ali al-Araibi

Mon, 2019-02-04 13:35
Submitted on Mon, 2019-02-04 13:35Amnesty International

Ahead of refugee footballer Hakeem Ali al-Araibi’s extradition hearing in a Bangkok court today, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner, Katherine Gerson, said:

“The Thai authorities should stop all proceedings relating to this absurd, cruel and cynical extradition request. It is well known that Hakeem survived torture in Bahrain and that his relatives continue to face persecution there. Hakeem and his wife have found sanctuary in Australia; he should not spend another day in detention and should be allowed home, to Melbourne, immediately.

“The Thai government should see that Bahrain’s sole motive is to further punish Hakeem for the peaceful political opinions he expressed. He is at grave risk of unjust imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment if he is returned to Bahrain. Interpol rightly withdrew the ‘red notice’ for Hakeem, which was in breach of their own refugee protection policy. 

“This case has made global headlines and shocked the world. As they previously did for Saudi refugee Rahaf Mohammed, the Thai authorities now have a chance to show their commitment to protecting refugees by releasing Hakeem and tossing out Bahrain’s extradition request. To honour the request would blatantly violate international law.” 

Background

On 1 February, Thai prosecutors submitted a request for al-Araibi’s extradition on behalf of the government of Bahrain. Travelling on an Australian travel document, al-Araibi was detained upon arrival in Bangkok on 27 November last year, based on an erroneous Interpol red notice. He remains in remand in Klong Prem Remand Prison.

 As part of extradition proceedings, al-Araibi is expected to appear in court today (4 February), where he will be asked if he is willing to be extradited to Bahrain.

A former player of Bahrain’s national soccer team, he has been a peaceful and outspoken critic of the authorities since he was detained in November 2012 and subjected to torture. He fled to Australia, where he obtained asylum in 2017. Bahraini authorities have an appalling track record of cracking down on peaceful dissent.

In 2014, at the close of an unfair trial, the Bahraini authorities sentenced al-Araibi in absentia to 10 years in prison on charges of attacking a police station. His brother is currently serving a jail sentence on the same charges.

Under international law, it is prohibited to return an individual to a territory or place where they would be at real risk of suffering torture or other serious human rights violations. Thailand has in recent years undertaken to strengthen its respect for this prohibition, including by pledging at the UN Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in September 2016 to enact anti-torture and disappearance legislation containing protections against such forcible returns.

Pick to PostHakeem al-Araibi
Categories: Prachatai English

Students arrested for calling on PM to resign

Mon, 2019-02-04 12:14
Submitted on Mon, 2019-02-04 12:14Prachatai

Prayuth Chan-o-cha said earlier "oust me if you can, jerk' during a speech on government’s 4-year report. Students come out to do just that and got arrested.


Source: Parit Chiwarak

On 2 February 2019, Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak and Thanawat Wongchai, students from Thammasat University and Chulalongkorn University, went to Government House of Thailand to call for Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister, to resign. The students read the statement, then hang chilies, salts, and garlics at the fence of Government House.

“If you concern about the national interests, today Thailand’s reputation has declined because you postpone election so many times that we lost credibility. Since we already plan to hold the election, we want it to be free, transparent, and fair,” said Parit.

Speaking of stuffs brought for protest, he said “garlic in western belief can chase away vampires sucking blood, but we are not so sure if it can chase away beasts sucking tax, power and democracy. Today, let’s see if it works.”


Source: Sa-nguan Khumrungroj

Polices arrived at the scene to arrest the two students, and pressed charge under Article 10 of the 2015 Public Assembly Act, claiming that they protest without noticing 24 hours in advance. Police also take chilies, salts, and garlics as evidences. They have released students at 21.00 and investigators will call them to Dusit District Court later.


Source: Tanakorn Wongpanya

The protest was a response to Prayuth’s statement earlier - “oust me if you can, jerk” - on 1 February 2019 at 11.00 while delivering a speech on government’s 4-year report. Even though Prayuth apologize later on at 17.00 for being a bit off the line, but it was too late. The two students tweeted that they will accept the challenge to oust the PM at 16.30.

On 3 February 2019, Ekkachai Hongkangwan also joined the students by hanging a plastic bag of mangoes at the fence of the government building, saying that “one should eat mango with chilies and salts.” In Thailand, chilies and salts are favorite dips when one thinks of mango.

NewsGen Prayut Chan-o-cha
Categories: Prachatai English

Demonstration at Ratchaprasong in memory of disappeared dissidents

Sun, 2019-02-03 00:16
Submitted on Sun, 2019-02-03 00:16Prachatai

Today (2 February 2019), a demonstration was held at Ratchaprasong junction in memory of the three disappeared dissidents: Surachai Saedan, Phuchana, and Kasalong.

At 17.30, a group of political activists gathered at Ratchaprasong junction in memory of Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Saedan, and two other dissidents, Phuchana and Kasalong (pseudonyms). The trio fled the country after the 2014 military coup, and disappeared in December 2018. Phuchana and Kasalong were subsequently confirmed to be the two bodies found washed up on the banks of the Mekhong River in Nakhon Phanom around New Year.

There was a minute of silence, then Pranee Danwattananusorn, Surachai’s wife, led the group in placing flowers in memory of the three dissidents.

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk said that, on 7 February 2019, he will be going to the Government House to hand a letter calling for justice for the trio, and to demand for a return of Surachai’s body. Somyot said that, because Surachai, Phuchana, and Kasalong left the country after the 2014 coup and disappeared around 11 December 2018, when General Prayuth Chan-o-cha was visiting Laos, he is suspicious that the government may have been involved in their disappearance. If the government is not involved, he would like them to explain what Gen. Prayuth was doing on his visit to Laos and why the visit coincided with the three refugees' disappearance. He also would like them to find and prosecute the culprit.

Somyot was wearing a hat with a red star at the gathering. He said that the hat is a symbol of Surachai’s activism, a symbol of an unyielding fighter. He said “I am wearing this hat in memory of Surachai and two of our comrades.”

Before the demonstration ended, the group lit candles and sang “Deun Pen” and “Nak Su Thu Li Din.” Anon Nampha also announced that there will be a religious service for Surachai at Wat Chaengsirisampan on Sunday, 3 February 2019.

The activists present at the demonstration included Anon Nampha, Pansak Sritep, Chokchai Paiboonratchata, Siravit Serithiwat, and Chonticha Chaeng-rew. They also brought a new Ratchaprasong banner to replace the road sign that was removed after the human rights attorney Anon Nampha announced that there will be a demonstration at the junction earlier in the week. The space in front of Gaysorn Shopping Mall, which has been a popular spot for political demonstrations, is now blocked with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s flower pots. 

Before the gathering started, there were also police officers around the sky walk between Siam BTS Station and Chidlom BTS Station. They barricaded the sky walk, preventing passers-by from walking pass or looking down at the demonstration. 

The demonstration ended at 19:00.

 

 

NewsSurachai DanwattananusornSurachai SaedanPhuchanaKasalongenforce disappearance
Categories: Prachatai English

Former Political Prisoner, Truong Duy Nhat, Disappeared In Thailand After Seeking Refugee Status With UN

Fri, 2019-02-01 18:31
Submitted on Fri, 2019-02-01 18:31The Vietnamese

Last Friday, January 25, 2019, former political prisoner, Truong Duy Nhat, was last seen at the office of the UN HCR – The Refugee Agency in Bangkok, Thailand.

Truong Duy Nhat. Photo courtesy: Teu Blog

Nhat was there to register himself as an asylum seeker after leaving Vietnam earlier in the month.

According to his family and friends, no one had heard from him since last Saturday, and they could not contact him.

Nhat has left Vietnam for Thailand for about 21 days, said his family.

The family was able to confirm that Nhat was not held by Thailand’s IDC (Immigration Detention Center). They also obtained further information today that Thai authorities, up to this point, did not arrest Nhat either.

Nhat’s phone number in Thailand is not turned off, but no one answered the calls. His wife and daughter are worried about his safety and well-being as they are still unable to get in touch with him.

Truong Duy Nhat was sentenced to two-year-imprisonment in 2014 under Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code. Nhat was arrested in May 2013 and held in detention until his trial.

The government alleged some of his blog entries on the Blog “Another Point of View” (Một Góc Nhìn Khác) was “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe the interest of the state”.

His blog was indeed critical of the government and the leaders of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

One of the entries published in April 2013 was calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and the VCP’s General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong for their perceived political and economic mismanagement.

After his release in 2015, Nhat continued with his blogging and resided in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Nhat’s wife is still in Vietnam, but his daughter is studying in Vancouver, Canada. They are asking members of the public to come forward with any useful information regarding his whereabouts.

Pick to PostTruong Duy NhatVietnamese refugeepolitical prisonersUNHCRSource: https://www.thevietnamese.org/2019/02/former-political-prisoner-truong-duy-nhat-disappeared-in-thailand-after-seeking-refugee-status-with-un/
Categories: Prachatai English

Sex Workers, the Southern Border Provinces, and Living with Rules They Did Not Write

Fri, 2019-02-01 01:18
Submitted on Fri, 2019-02-01 01:18Kritsada Subpawanthanakun

"...Each of us knows where the lines are drawn, where we cannot step over, where we can move the line a little, and where we can cross without care. It is only the journey of life in which each draws their own legal, health, traditional, community and social lines, even when facing God."

Since 2004, when another round of unrest flared up in the southern border areas, there have been 2 bombing incidents in Betong District, Yala Province.  Quantitatively, this figure is incomparable to other areas.  In each case, normality returned soon after the chaos, as if Betong was totally separated from the three southern border provinces.  People here believe this is due to the fact that there is only one way in or out of the district, so anyone coming in to cause harm could find themselves trapped in the area.

Nonetheless, as Betong is a border town, as are Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, this area possesses distinct characteristics not found in other border areas.

“Borders” are more than pseudo lines

For outsiders, the three provinces constitute the border area, and by common sense this is the area bordering a neighbouring country.  This view is not incorrect, but looking beyond the physical characteristics and the line drawn in the air, there are more to the border areas than that.

Sopee Untaya of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mahasarakham University, described the border areas in the Journal of Mekong Societies, Vol. 10, No. 3, September-December 2014, as follows.

“Border areas constitute a space where we can see not only state power and its limits, but also relationships, conflicts and facilitations as the space contains a multitude of cultural activities carried out by many people whose history involves cross-nation-state migration and displacement.  Border areas are interim spaces in which there are no fixed dividing lines in the cultural, political and economic dimensions for people, objects or thoughts to cross back and forth.  However, borders, no matter where, are often subject to being moved, erased and redrawn depending on the relationships among groups of people in certain places and at certain time.  Thus the meaning of border areas varies and can fall into several categories, not succinctly differentiated, but overlapping; it possesses fluidity in accordance with time, power and societal contexts, and with the movements of people involved in the struggle to bargain for power in the various activities in the livelihoods of their communities.”  

With such characteristics, Phrae Sirisakdamkoeng, lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, explained that the prominent feature of border areas is the existence of many overlapping rules and requirements; they are grey areas with cross-overs between strictness and non-strictness.

Anusorn Unno, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, explained that the overlapping parts lead to greater variety and fluidity of people’s identities.  When you are on one side, you may identify with that side, but when you are on the other, you may switch to another identity since there are two states involved.  Moreover, because the status of the three Southern border provinces is not yet recognized by all parties like other border areas, the people living in these border areas possess the cultural skills for survival amidst complex overlapping rules.

Learning the cultural rules and skills to build bargaining power

City of Betong

What drives the economy in the 78 sq km Betong Municipality is the tourism industry, or more specifically the sex industry.  Women who came to work as sex workers in the Betong and Yala areas inevitably need to find ways to build their bargaining power, cultural skills, and to learn complex rules in order to survive.
In her study on ‘Establishing Power by Female Sex workers in Betong Town, Yala Province’, Journal of Social Development, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2018, Surang Artnarong estimated that at least 3,000-5,000 sex workers conduct their trade there.  Most of the tourists are Malaysian (with Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnicity) and the total figure for foreigners arriving there in 2014 was 466,913, generating 2,130.74 million baht in income for the area, while the 122,740 Thai tourists generated only 388.95 million Baht. 

A survey in the Betong municipality conducted by Betong Hospital in 2018 found 72 sex service establishments with 85 male staff, including only one that was a sex worker, and 593 female staff including 194 sex workers.

None of these are accurate figures because prostitution is still illegal.  The only reliable fact is that sex work exists there, and it can be divided into 2 broad categories.  In the first, the sex workers have no bargaining power, and in the second, they can choose which customers they want to go with.

The first type is called Ban Buk, a polite term for brothel.
Noei (alias), whose past on this road has been swift, told me about it.  Since it is a brothel, the workers are treated only as commodities; no Thai customers are served here.  The second type are usually camouflaged as pubs, karaoke bars, even massage parlours.  Customers can take the workers out if they negotiate successfully, and certainly the workers have to hand in a portion of their pay to the owners of the business.

Nonetheless, the findings of the ‘Establishing Power by Female Sex-workers in Betong Town, Yala Province’ study tells us that sex workers are not totally powerless.  They build relationships with other groups in Ban Buk and use them as leverage for additional bargaining power.  Those with pretty faces can acquire regular customers, forcing the brothel owners to grant them privileges and enabling the workers to select only the customers they are satisfied with, as well as to determine the rates and types of service.

Living with the Betong rules

Grandview road, Betong

“Mostly, brothels in Betong do not accept Thai clientèle as a rule.  And associating with Thais is prohibited.  But karaoke bars do cater to Thais because they are under a different registration.  Brothels have to pay more, while it is cheaper for Karaoke bars which only pay the alcohol excise tax.  Brothels have to register their workers with the police and if they leave the business they can only come back to it until after 6 months, otherwise they have to pay tea money.  These are the Betong rules.”, Noei recounted from her experience in the occupation.

She has prowled Grand View Street since 15 years ago when she first arrived in Betong.  The street is well known to Betong people and sex customers; if you want to pick up someone to sleep with, here is where you come.  It is a short street winding its way through small alleys lined with pubs, bars, karaoke places, and Ban Buk.  The colourful neon lights work overtime, studiously shining and accentuating the faces and flesh complexion of the groups of night butterflies.  All the women on Grand View Street may have dreams beyond this place, only they have not yet arrived.

“The Betong rules require a tea money payment to the establishment if you want to leave it.  If you don’t, once out you cannot get back into Betong.  The rate will depend on how popular you are.  The more popular, the higher rate.  I estimated that as a lively, spirited type, my ransom would be thirty thousand.  I told the business owner to demand fifty thousand and I would pocket the extra twenty thousand myself.  But the worst case was when a girl ran away, the owner went after her to bring her back and she was locked up afterwards.”, Noei added, referring to the time in her life when a Malaysian man wanted to redeem her.

Apart from having to live with the various rules of the border areas, another factor affecting the sex workers’ livelihoods is the Southern border unrest.  Fortunately for them, Betong is not a target of the perpetrators and there have been very few incidents there.  The two bombings, however, each depressed the tourism business for about a week afterwards, and the sex workers without patrons or regular clients did struggle during these periods.  The situation soon returned to normal, however.

Living with ‘Mo’s’ rules

On leaving Betong for Yala town, I had a chance to talk to a ‘Mo’.  This is not a name of a person, but of an occupation, short for ‘modelling’.  This Mo explained to me that her work involved recruiting young women for events emceeing, posing as pretties, selling concert tickets, as well as sitting down to drink with clients.  That is as far as their job goes.  If any woman wanted to go with any of the clients, it would be their personal choice; the Mo would not be involved and no deductions are made.

As the Mo has to look after dozens of young women, I asked her what she would do if they go off with clients and the clients are not satisfied.

“It’s very difficult to say, but in such a case, I would have already told them that I have nothing to do with this.  If anything happens, they should call me immediately; this is because some of them are travelling workers, not locals.  Some have told me, some did not dare to.  If they do, I can help look after them even though I don’t get any commission because they are here under my line of work.  If they want to go, they can call me wherever they are if need be.  I keep the sound on all the time.  They can point to me who they want to go with.  If the person would not name the place, saying he would fetch the girl himself, I would not allow the girl to go.  I help scan all the work for them.”

Leaving aside the special service and going back to the young women’s regular work, events-based work is not complicated, unlike work as a drinking companion.  Salaried people receive their pay monthly at a specified time, but drinking companions are paid by ‘track’, each lasts 10-15 days.  For example, ABC business requires 4 drinking companions per track and a Mo will supply them.  Within this period, each worker has to sell up to the specified target number of drinks and gets paid at the end of the track, with deductions as agreed upon.

“I would clarify with the owner of the business that the service entails entertaining and serving drinks, not ‘sleeping with’ the customers, and the working hours would be from when to when.  Afterwards, If the women want to leave, they must be allowed to.  But if the owner requests an extension of service time with extra pay and the women agree to it, it would be OK with me too.  I won’t just take whatever job is on offer, only the ones I feel OK with.”, explained this Mo.

It seems that the Mo occupation is a comfortable one, sending the girls to their work sites and waiting to get the commission.  In reality, it is not easy.  A Mo has to coordinate with bar or pub owners, clarifying details of work, contacting the workers, placing them at the work sites on time, and ensuring they meet the targets.  If anything untoward happens, the Mo will have to be at the forefront, whether in person or by telephone, to clear up the problem.

This Mo confessed that working in the three Southern border provinces is something ‘super taxing’, having to deal with clients who are state officials, some of them ‘overbearing’, particularly when their blood content is highly spiked.  Facing such situations, she would tell her workers to retreat.  But she also has an advantage because state officers are more prone to be the targeted subject of news reports.

The majority of people in the Southern border areas are Muslims and are rather strict in their ways.  However, this Mo says that there are many Muslim women working with her.

Living with the religious rules

The short history of Ki (alias) is that she did not finish Grade 7; she admitted being delinquent, running away from home in her teens.  After being found and brought back home in Narathiwat, her head was shaved and she was chained indoors for one week.  That was the length of time she needed to saw off the shackle and to flee home again, never to go back until today.  Once, she and others were lured by human traffickers to do sex work in Singapore; luckily, she was able to escape.  She came to Betong in 2004 together with her first boyfriend.  When the time came for love to fade and expire, she had no money to feed herself and turned into this current path.

Ki took off the hijab when she left home.

For Muslim women, removing the hijab is a great sin, not to mention engaging in sex service which is more severe to the point of being excommunicated from the religion.  From this perspective, Ki in no longer a Muslim. However, …

“I still consider myself a Muslim, but I don’t pray nor wear a hijab.  I feel indifferent when I drink and smoke, but I don’t eat pork.  If I eat it unknowingly, I would stop when I realize what I have eaten.  It actually tastes good though,” Ki explained and smiled at her own humour.

I asked her about the principles and beliefs of Islam.  She believes in judgement day, but is not afraid because she hasn’t seen one.  Her younger sister once asked if she wasn’t afraid of sin and her answer was no because she had never seen what it was that was called sin.

“If the judgement day arrives, what answers would you give to God?”

“I can’t answer anything.  I have never studied the Islamic texts.  God speaks Malay and Arabic, but I have never studied them.  Also, I won’t know what to say and have never thought about this.”

“Are you afraid of going to hell?”

“I am somewhat.  I still believe in Allah.  When I lived in Narathiwat, I joined the fast, but haven’t done so since moving to Betong because my body is dirty, unclean.  I drink and smoke.  I wasn’t married when I got pregnant, and I never practiced zagat (alms-giving).”

It would be strange to see a Muslim woman wearing a hijab serving drinks at tables.  If one looks deeper, removing the hijab means more to a Muslim woman than removing a piece of clothing.  It implies removing her Muslim identity.  Those who choose to do so have to make compromises with themselves as well as with their religion, such as by taking the hijab off at work and putting it on when going home.

We can look it this in 2 ways: either they are removing their Muslim identity from themselves, or by removing the hijab, they are protecting their religion in the only way they possibly can.
For Ki, the explanation has not yet been found for God; she can only insist that she is still a Muslim.

Holding on to other norms

Making adjustments, negotiating, bargaining and exchanging with the variety of rules surrounding our lives are nothing peculiar; all of us do it all the time.  For some groups, some occupations, much more effort is needed in order to live with a great deal more rules and finer details, while looking for something to prop themselves up so they don’t fall apart.

Phrae Sirisakdamkoeng, whose doctoral dissertation is titled “Muslim Lives in a “Drugs Den”: A Southern Community’s Negotiated Normality in Thailand”, said that there are many types of norms in society, but people only notice major ones: legal, religious, or medical rules on health.  Drug users living in communities also make use of other norms to allow themselves to live normally in the same way as sex workers do, she explained and at the same time posed further questions:

“From the research, the norms mentioned are about how to maintain a normal, peaceful life, whether in legal, religious or well-being terms.  But there are other norms than can help people achieve the same end.  What about sex workers?  Not eating pork is very much a particular identity of Muslims.  By doing other things but not eating pork, is it a way to reaffirm that they are still Muslims?  The food we eat can identify who we are; we have to eat from morning till evening so we have to think all the time about what we can or cannot eat. Pork avoidance can inform who you are; even a sex worker has some symbolic means to inform themselves who they are.”

Eventually, ancient instincts tell human-beings that they have to do everything to survive.  It may be difficult if you are living under so many rules.  Each of us knows where the lines are drawn, where we cannot step over, where we can move the line a little, and where we can cross without care.  It is only the journey of life in which each draws their own legal, health, traditional, community and social lines, even when facing God.

HighlightSouthern border provincesBetonghuman rightsMalaysex workersSource: Krissada
Categories: Prachatai English

Bahrain files extradition request for detained footballer, say Thai authorities

Fri, 2019-02-01 00:22
Submitted on Fri, 2019-02-01 00:22

Chatchom Akapin, the director-general of the International Affairs Department at the Office of the Attorney General said that the Bahraini authorities has already filed an extradition request for detained footballer and refugee Hakeem al-Araibi.

Hakeem al-Araibi (Source: gofundme.com)

Today (31 January 2019) Matichon reported that Chatchom said that the Thai authorities have received an extradition request from Bahrain, and are currently in the process of deciding whether the request is in compliance with Thailand’s Extradition Act. If it does, the case will go to court. However, Chatchom said that, if General Prayuth Chan-ocha thinks Hakeem should not be extradited, he could overrule the court rulings, because international relation is also at stake when it comes to extradition and the executive branch has legal authority in such cases.

Hakeem was detained at Suvarnabhumi Airport on 27 November 2018. The Thai authorities acted on a disputed Interpol red notice issued by Bahrain, but Hakeem is a recognized refugee and has been granted asylum by the Australian government, and so should have been exempted from such a notice. He is currently held at Bangkok Remand Prison.

Related: 

Hakeem’s wife, who was traveling with him when he was arrested but has since returned to Australia, told BBC that extradition would place him in danger, and has written a personal plea to General Prayuth for Hakeem to be allowed to return to Australia. “His future lies in your hands. Please help my husband come home,” she says in her letter.   

Thailand has a track record of extraditing asylum seekers to countries in which they would be in danger. Hakeem’s arrest and possible extradition is now a cause of international concern. The Australian government, FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, Human Rights Watch, along with other football clubs, such as Chiang Rai United and Chiang Mai Football Club have issued statement calling for Hakeem’s release. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) also issued a letter to General Prayuth on 29 January asking the Thai government to allow him to return to Australia. The AFC asks the Thai authorities to “ensure that Mr al-Araibi is returned safely to Australia…at the earliest possible opportunity.”

“The AFC joins FIFA and other stakeholders in the belief that his release will respect Thailand’s obligations under international law and demonstrate the basic human and humanitarian values, which are held dearly by your country,” says the letter.

 

 

 

NewsHakeem al-Araibi
Categories: Prachatai English

437 Bangkok Schools to close due to PM2.5

Wed, 2019-01-30 18:54
Submitted on Wed, 2019-01-30 18:54Prachatai

On 30 January 2019, the Governor of Bangkok has announced at 11.30 that 437 schools in Bangkok has been closed; a statement has been made that the Prime Minister has ordered other schools under the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) to follow.

Source: Air Quality Index Website
(Captured at 5.31 p.m.)

Pol. Gen. Assavin Kwanmuang, the Governor of Bangkok, made a statement that 437 schools in Bangkok will be closed from 30 January at 12.00 a.m. to 1 February 2019.  He added that he is only responsible for the Bangkok area, but other schools will follow soon by the Prime Minister’s order.

“The order involved only schools in Bangkok. But a moment ago, the Prime Minister made a phone call to say that the Minister of Education will be ordered to close all schools under OBEC as well as parties involved. Maybe from tomorrow onward.”   

Soon after the statement, Thammasat University, Mahidol University, Srinakharinwirot University and Chulalongkorn University has announced there will be no teaching from 31 January to 1 February 2019. The latter also has been offering N95 masks for students at Chamchuri 9th building, second floor from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

The order has also been issued by the Ministry of Education to schools in Bangkok Metropolitan Region, including Nonthaburi, Pathumthani, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Prakan, and Samut Sakhon which will have no teachings from 30 January to 1 February.

On 30 January, Air Quality Index (AQI) website show that most of monitoring stations in Bangkok Metropolitan Region have reported unhealthy signals. The government still sprays water to contain the problem. Drones will be employed to spray water mixed with molasses to better capture the particulates.  

In Northern part of Thailand also face the problem even though there is still no sign if any educational institutions will be closed.

NewsPM2.5
Categories: Prachatai English

Thailand: Free Bahraini Footballer

Wed, 2019-01-30 17:56
Submitted on Wed, 2019-01-30 17:56Human Rights Watch

(New York) – Thailand’s government should immediately release the refugee football player Hakeem al-Araibi and let him return to his wife and team in Australia, Human Rights Watch said today in announcing a campaign for his freedom. Following strong statements on his behalf by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the International Olympic Committee, the Bahraini government has accelerated the extradition processto send him back to Bahrain. FIFA’s Statutes and its Human Rights Policy seek to provide protection from abuses for professional players such as al-Araibi.


Source: gofundme.com

Since Thai authorities have not responded to the many governments and sports federations that have asked for al-Araibi’s freedom, Human Rights Watch is opening a #SaveHakeem digital campaign encouraging concerned athletes and people around the world to write directly to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand.'

“The footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is a recognized refugee yet Thailand seems to be planning to forcibly return him to Bahrain, where he faces torture or worse,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives. “Many athletes, the Australian government, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee have all demanded his freedom, and Thailand should permit his immediate return to his wife and teammates in Australia.”

Al-Araibi, a Bahraini national who gained refugee status in Australia in 2017, has told Human Rights Watchthat: “Bahrain is a state that has no human rights. My life is in danger. FIFA should protect me and all players.”

He was first arrested in Bahrain in 2012, and says he was tortured while in detention, allegedly for his brother’s political activities. In 2014, he was unjustly convicted of vandalizing a police station. At the time of the supposed crime, al-Araibi was playing in a televised football match. He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison and later in 2014 fled to Australia.

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented the widespread torture and ill-treatment of detained activists and dissidents by Bahraini security forces since the 2011 anti-government protests.

Thailand is bound by the customary international law principle of nonrefoulement, which prohibits the return of anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to life. In addition, the United Nations Convention against Torture, to which Thailand is a party, prohibits governments from returning or extraditing anyone to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Thai immigration officials detained al-Araibi on November 27, 2018, when he arrived from Australia with his wife at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport for their honeymoon. The officials informed al-Araibi that they were acting on an Interpol “Red Notice” issued at Bahrain’s request, and would return him to Bahrain. The Red Notice issued by Bahrain violated Interpol’s policy of prohibiting notices filed by governments against refugees who have fled persecution from the filing country. The Red Notice has since been invalidated.

Al-Araibi is currently a professional football player with Pascoe Vale Football Club in Melbourne. He remains openly critical of the government of Bahrain.

Al-Araibi has also expressed criticism of the current Bahraini president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa, who is FIFA Vice President and a member of Bahrain’s ruling family. Al-Araibi has alleged that Sheikh Salman failed to stop the persecution and torture of Bahraini athletes who joined the country’s 2011 protests.

“Sheikh Salman’s senior position within both FIFA and the Bahraini ruling family makes him well-positioned to stop the extradition,” Worden said. “If he cares about his status in Asian football, he should be pressing Thailand to free Hakeem.”

Al-Araibi, speaking to Human Rights Watch from a Thai detention center on December 6, said, “I want to tell [FIFA] President [Gianni] Infantino that he has the power to save my life – and I am asking him to help.”

FIFA has intervened in the al-Araibi case, but should do more. On January 23, 2019, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura wrote a letter to Prayut calling for an urgent “humane outcome” to al-Araibi’s case.

FIFA has recently made numerous institutional reforms to uphold human rights, and should use its leverage to prevent al-Araibi’s forced return to Bahrain.

That leverage includes Thailand’s ambitions to host a future World Cup: Thailand and Indonesia have launched a joint bid to host the 2034 World Cup.

“Thailand has said it is interested in hosting the 2034 World Cup,” Worden said. “According to FIFA’s new bidding requirements, all host countries must report on their human rights climate – and sending a football player to a situation where he faces a real risk of torture would certainly be a black mark on Thailand’s record.”

Pick to PostHakeem al-Araibi
Categories: Prachatai English

BNK’s use of Swastika has nothing to do with curriculum, says OBEC.

Wed, 2019-01-30 15:02
Submitted on Wed, 2019-01-30 15:02Prachatai

As the controversy over BNK48’s swastika t-shirt starts to fade, the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) says that “the problem is not with the curriculum.” 

Source: Israel in Thailand

On 25 January 2019, BNK48, a successful Japanese girl band franchise in Thailand, became engulfed in controversy when band member Pichayapa ‘Namsai’ Natha was shown on TV performing in a t-shirt with the Nazi symbol.  She said she did not know about its cruel history.

On 26 January 2019, the Israeli Embassy in Thailand issued a statement that the incident was an insult to millions of people whose relatives had been killed in the Holocaust. On 27 January 2019, Georg Schmidt, German Ambassador to Thailand, tweeted “we share the shock and dismay expressed by @ShapiraSmadar from the Embassy of #Israel. We invite members of #BNK48 to discuss the terror of the Nazi Dictatorship with us.”  

On 28 January 2019, the Embassy of Poland in Bangkok also posted on Facebook that it “expresses its full solidarity with the Embassy of Israel in its shock and dismay over the Nazi outfit worn by the singer of #BNK48 band.”

On the same day, Namsai and BNK48 apologized to the Israeli Embassy in Thailand and promised to promote awareness about Holocaust. BNK48 also agreed with the German Ambassador to hold a workshop about the history of Holocaust.       

According to Matichon Online, Nitsuda Apinuntaporn, Director of the Academic Affairs and Educational Standards Bureau of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Ministry of Education, commented on Namsai’s case, saying that there is no need to review the curriculum since the facts are there and cannot be changed.  Kids study but maybe can’t remember.

“The problem is not with the curriculum. This incident happened, I think, because of carelessness. We cannot blame the kid alone, because she did not realize the consequences. So she became a victim, because the adults did not take care of her. The ones taking care of the artist should have checked if the dress was proper before the rehearsal. What is important is the shop that produced the shirt for sale, which I understand is for business and was probably not intended to cause damage.”

Simon K. Li, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre, told the New York Times that many similar cases happened in Asia, including India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand because “there is little education in the region about genocides generally and the Holocaust in particular.” David Streckfuss also told the same source that there is next to zero knowledge or interest about Nazi history and the swastika symbol.

Correction: To prevent misleading the public, we have deleted content about a Twitter user who posted a message defending the BNK’s use of Swastika symbol; it is not known if it was a prank or real. We would like to apologize for our error of judgement.

Newsholocaust
Categories: Prachatai English

Transgender student files complaint with Gender Discrimination Committee on uniform case

Tue, 2019-01-29 22:33
Submitted on Tue, 2019-01-29 22:33

Today (29 January 2019), Jirapat, the transgender student who was denied the right to dress according to her gender identity by Chulalongkorn University, went to the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development (DWF) to file a formal complaint on her case.

Jirapat is a student at the Faculty of Education, Chulalongkorn University. She has allegedly been facing transphobic comments and verbal harassments from a special instructor, and earlier in January 2019, the Faculty informed Jirapat that they have overturned their decision to allow her to wear the university’s uniform for female student. Jirapat, along with two other students, then filed a complaint on the case with the Committee on Consideration of Unfair Gender Discrimination on 29 January 2019.

Related: University denies trans student’s right to wear female uniform; reflects discrimination faced by Thailand’s LGBT community

Their report was received by Lerdpanya Buranabundit, the director-general of the Department of Women’s Affairs and Family Development. Mr Lerdpanya said that, under the Gender Equality Act, those who face discrimination have the right to protection, and to have their rights defended. The Gender Equality Act prohibits unfair treatments on the basis of gender, and under Section 18 of this act, any person who thinks that they have suffered from gender-based discrimination may file a complaint with the Gender Discrimination Committee, who has the authority to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to end and prevent discrimination, and to ensure that there will be compensation and remedy for the injured party.

Mr Lerdpanya also said that “DWF welcomes complaints from anyone facing gender-based discrimination, no matter the person’s gender identity, since the Gender Equality Act protects everyone who discriminated against on the basis of gender. Those who wish to file a complaint may do so in person, by post, or online.”

For Jirapat’s case, Mr Lerdpanya said that the Committee, together with Chulalongkorn University and the Faculty of Education, will try to find a common solution that is fair to everyone.

Lerdpanya Buranabundit, director-general of the Department of Women's Affairs and Family Development

Chulalongkorn University has been granting transgender students permission to graduate in the attire that matches their gender identity, provided that they file a formal request with the university. However, Jirapat is the first student to formally request permission to dress according to her gender identity to class and to sit examinations, and other students are now following in her footsteps. She said that such requests are so rare not because there are no transgender students at Chulalongkorn University, but because the university has never informed their students that this is possible and students weren’t aware of the protocol.  

Jirapat told Prachatai that she does not think that the uniform requirement is the problem. She believes that, even if the university does not require uniform, transgender students will still have a hard time wearing clothing that matches their gender identity in a conservative institution. She said she understands that this is not the point where students would no longer have to ask the university for permission to dress according to their gender identity. However, she would like the university to establish a protocol and criteria which treated everyone fairly. Jirapat said that currently the requirement is that the student making the request must already have gone through gender confirmation surgery or top surgery, or at least look traditionally feminine for their request to be approved. Jirapat thinks that this is unfair, as she is supported by her mother and is therefore able to access these treatments, while others may not have the same opportunity.

From left: Boat, Flook, and Jirapat

Boat and Flook, also students at the Faculty of Education, said that they were also affected by the faculty’s order for every student to dress according to the gender they were assigned at birth, and decided to stand with Jirapat. They were also presented at the DWF Office this morning when Jirapat filed her complaint.

Boat, a fourth year student, said that she will soon have to undergo teacher training. She will be posted in a school for four to five months at a time, and she is concerned that she won’t be able to dress as female while in training. Boat said that she has been wearing female uniform since her second year, and is concerned that the faculty will not defend her rights. Boat told Prachatai that there have been many instances in which a transgender student was rejected by the school they have been posted to because they are transgender, and the faculty does not have any support system in place when such an incident happens. She said that the faculty either send the student to another school, or try to convince them to dress as male while they are in training -- a method she finds unacceptable.  

Flook, a second year student, said that she also faced some discrimination from staff members. A lecturer allegedly ordered her to use the Thai ending particle “krap,” often used by male speakers, instead of “ka” which is used by female speakers, as, according to the lecturer, “you’re a man” even though she was wearing female uniform at the time. She told Prachatai that she wanted to file a formal uniform request as Jirapat did, but her academic advisor did not allow her to do so.

Chulalongkorn University is known for being a conservative institution. However, Boat and Flook said that not every lecturer in their Faculty is discriminating. Many members of staff are rather accepting about them expressing their gender identity, and only some lacks understanding about LGBT rights. Despite this, Boat said that she wishes all party could come to a mutual understanding. She noted that the right to be treated fairly regardless of gender identity is enshrined in the Gender Equality Act, and would like the university to understand that clothes are also a mean of self-expression.

Nada Chaiyajit (pink shirt)

Nada Chaiyajit, a trans right activist and legal advisor for the trans right group Transpiration Power, who has been Jirapat’s advocate, said that the university’s decision to suspend the Faculty of Education’s order prohibiting transgender students from dressing according to their gender identity shows their intention to protect these students. However, she said that she and Jirapat decided to file a complaint in order to make sure their rights will be protected. Nada said that the special instructor’s action affected a wide group of people, since his homophobic and transphobic comments were said in class. She does not think that this can be tolerated. Nada said that the case will now be processed according to the Committee’s protocols, and that she will present their evidence when the investigation starts. Nada also says that the aim is for transgender students to be able to dress according to their gender identity to class, to sit examinations, to undertake internship, and to their graduation.

NewsLGBT rightsDiscrimination against LGBTChulalongkorn University
Categories: Prachatai English

Ekkachai’s car torched in front of his house; activists to hold demonstration

Tue, 2019-01-29 21:37
Submitted on Tue, 2019-01-29 21:37

Activist Ekkachai Hongkangwan’s car has been torched in front of his house. There will be a demonstration on 3rd February to condemn the intimidation. 

Picture from Ekkachai's Facebook page

Surveillance camera footage from 3.00 a.m. on 26 January 2019 shows a man with a jacket and a cap walking out of the soi where Ekkachai lives holding a bottle of petrol that was used to burn the car. Ekkachai went to file a report at Lat Phrao Police Station and a forensic unit arrived at the scene.

On 28 January 2019, he posted on his Facebook page that months ago, a scratch and traces of a collision appeared on his car despite his clean driving record, followed by a nail driven into his car tire. He did not bring the matter to the police because he had not installed the security camera. 

After 2 years and 8 months in imprison from 2012 to 2015 under Article 112 for selling CDs of an ABC documentary, Ekkachai became a political activist famous for his direct nonviolent actions. One of them is protesting against Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan’s impunity against corruption allegations for owning 25 luxury watches.

Tortured while being taken to a military camp, having fish sauce thrown at him, and having his finger broken in an assault in front of his own house, he has persisted through years of struggle despite 5 physical assaults. Recently, he also fought against the election delay.

Some have donated financial relief to Ekkachai; he said thanks for the support on Facebook. On 3rd February from 3-5 p.m., his supporters will hold a demonstration at Ratchaprasong in a campaign called ‘Don’t mess with me’ to demand an end to intimidation and assaults against political activists. The activities will include symbolic acts against junta and a ‘dance for election’ to encourage citizens to vote.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012144304366

Source: https://prachatai.com/journal/2019/01/80724

News
Categories: Prachatai English

Man turns fire hydrant into a shrine to get rid of pile of trash - proves temporarily effective and goes viral.

Mon, 2019-01-28 20:33
Submitted on Mon, 2019-01-28 20:33Prachatai

On 28 January 2019, a courageous citizen took action to solve the problem of a pile of trash littering the front of Soi Lad Phrao using supernatural methods. The solution proved to be temporarily effective, showing the possibility of using superstition to address other social problems.

Thailand's landscape is littered with supernatural artefacts of Buddhism, Hinduism, and animism. Every few steps, tourists may see shrines filled with flowers, incense and candles, and the obligatory bottle of red Fanta (a blood substitute – yes, I know, but its Nazi origin proves to be quite apt.) to worship the spirits so as to bring good luck and keep bad luck away. 

Sometimes, superstition is used to solve problems. Tree ordination, for example, has been practiced for the past 25 years to combat deforestation. As illegal loggers are afraid of cutting down sacred trees, the practice has spread across Southeast Asia.

Methus Keawsaikao has taken action to solve a social problem through superstition. Faced with a pile of trash in front of Soi Lad Phrao every day, he decided to create a holy area around a fire hydrant by placing offerings to worship its spirit.

He reported the result of his supernatural innovation for urban development on his Facebook page. The post has gone viral with 23k likes and 7.4k shares, and a deluge of support: 

"It’s because I got so annoyed by the pile of trash in front of Soi Lad Phrao. Why don't they find a proper place to put it? The litterers don't go looking for bins.

So I started my black magic campaign - worshipping the guardian spirit of the fire hydrant, hahahaha. The first day, I put a red Fanta there. Turns out that it was picked up by the garbage truck at 5 a.m.

Red Fanta to worship the guardian spirit of the fire hydrant
Source: Methus Keawsaikao

I updated a new version by adding a doll and yellow flowers, and also told the garbage collectors please not to take them. (I put them there at 5 a.m. when they arrived.)

Supernatural method with more features
Source: Methus Keawsaikao

I just dropped by to check. There is still no garbage, but we can't declare victory yet - we have to wait and see.

When victory comes, I will raise funds to put flower, incense sticks and candles there, and buy bins for every soi - hahahahaha.

P.S. Anyone or any organization can donate garbage bins - better just donate bins, I don’t want money.

Superstition proves to be effective
Source: Methus Keawsaikao

Latest update [1] The shrine has gone and the garbage has come back again (Picture 4), but we cannot give up. Incense sticks and Ma Lai gold leaf are needed. Anyone who has them, please send them to me."

The shrine has gone and the garbage has come back again.
Source: Methus Keawsaikao

Think locally, act globally at its finest. We Thai people enthusiastically wait and see if his initiative will be successful and if the practice is about to spread nationwide.

News
Categories: Prachatai English

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