LAMPANG – Three people have been killed and 29 others, including seven students, were hurt when a Chiang Mai-bound passenger bus slammed into a school van, another vehicle and three houses in Lampang Province early today. Pol Maj Kamol Khid-arn, a duty officer at Muang police station said the passenger bus traveling from Udon […] Read more...
    MUKDAHARN – Thai Custom officials have arrested two Laotian nationals Wednesday morning when they tried to smuggle 26 million baht in bulk cash out of the country to Laos. The two Laotian nationals were identified as Thao Banluesak Sipakdi, 31, and Thao Santichai Chanto, 25. Custom Chief Soraj Sangkawan said the two Laotians […] Read more...
BANGKOK, 27 May 2015: Thailand’s top-of-the-line tour operators are adamant they are not promoting the controversial Tiger Temple, or Wat Pa Luang Ta Maha Bua temple in Kanchanaburi. They claim to have stopped offering tours to the so-called Tiger Temple for safety and animal rights reasons. The temple was first promoted by a BBC documentary […] Read more...

Tablecloths were being clipped down at breakfast this morning as another squall zipped through the anchorage and the stunning Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui with someone claiming “30 knots for breakfast again”. The wind strength then dropped and settled in around 10-12 knots by start of racing on Day 2 of the 2015 Samui Regatta. […]

The post All change at the top on Day 2 of Samui Regatta 2015 appeared first on Samui Times.

BANGKOK, 27 May 2015: Loei province in Northeast Thailand will welcome some 300 cyclists from Thailand and around Asia for the “Tour of I-san Loei Classic”  7 June. Organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in cooperation with Loei Provincial Administration, Life and Living Bikenet, and Nok Air, the event aims to promote green tourism in […] Read more...
Denial of Rights in Burma, Bangladesh Lead to Trafficking and Dangerous Sea Voyages

(Bangkok, May 27, 2015) – Rohingya and other survivors of dangerous boat voyages fromBurma and Bangladesh describe horrific treatment by unscrupulous smugglers and traffickers in Burma, and abuse and neglect aboard ships, Human Rights Watch said today. Aregional meeting scheduled on May 29, 2015, in Bangkok must find solutions to the so-called boat people exodus. 

Rohingya explained to Human Rights Watch how they endured two months at sea, packed below decks in cramped conditions with limited food and water and very poor sanitation. Boats carrying approximately 100 mostly Rohingya men and women each abandoned passengers at an undisclosed location along Thailand’s coast, leaving them to fend for themselves until they were found by the Thai authorities. According to international agencies, 3,000 to 4,000 people may still be aboard ships at sea.

“Survivors describe how they flee persecution in Burma only to fall into the hands of traffickers and extortionists, in many cases witnessing deaths and suffering abuse and hunger,” saidBrad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Interviews with officials and others make clear that these brutal networks, with the complicity of government officials in Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia, profit from the desperation and misery of some of the world’s most persecuted and neglected people.”

Regional states and other governments with the ability should make commitments to redouble search-and-rescue efforts and ensure that thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi asylum seekers and migrants have full access to procedures for seeking international protection and humanitarian assistance, Human Rights Watch said. 

“Burma and Bangladesh need to stop persecuting Rohingya, while Thailand and Malaysia urgently need to shut down camps where boat people are held to end abuses and ensure that no more mass graves are created on their soil,” Adams said.

In recent weeks scores of boats carrying thousands of Rohingya asylum seekers and migrants from Burma and Bangladesh have arrived in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The three governments responded by pushing the boats back out to sea, leading to domestic and international condemnation and forcing them to reconsider these policies. In response to pressure, the foreign ministers of the three countries met in Kuala Lumpur on May 21. Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to permit boats to land, but only with the proviso that the international community provide humanitarian assistance and help resettle or repatriate all the passengers within one year. 

Conditions for Rohingya in Burma are extremely dire, with limited access to education, employment, and the freedom to travel or observe their own religion cited as reasons for flight. Some flee voluntarily to escape these abusive conditions, but Rohingya also told Human Rights Watch that in some cases, smugglers lured and duped people to make the sea journey without disclosing what was involved, and sometimes handed them over to traffickers. 

One 13-year-old Rohingya girl told Human Rights Watch how men grabbed her in front of her family: “They dragged me to the boat, they had sticks, and threatened to beat me. I screamed, I cried loudly. My parents were weeping, but they couldn’t do anything.”

Another 16-year-old Rohingya girl said:

There was a group of six men, they were Rakhine Buddhists from Bangladesh, they had knives and guns. They forced me to get on a boat, they told me I was leaving Myanmar [Burma]. They pushed me to the small boat, I fell into the water up to my shoulders. Fifteen other Rohingya were on that boat. All the people were forced onto the boat.

A third Rohingya girl told of being grabbed by traffickers along with her husband and child: “I was on the way to my father-in-law’s house with my husband when a broker and many men took us. They forced us onto the big boat. On the boat I couldn’t understand their [the traffickers’] language, I cannot speak Burmese or Rakhine, I don’t know who they are.”

In all instances, the conditions on the boats were terrible. One Rohingya girl told Human Rights Watch:

We spent two months on that boat, more people kept coming to the big boat, small boats all the time. We [the women] were under the boat, it was so small. I couldn’t see outside the boat, just feel it go up and down. People were throwing up, I felt dizzy and uncomfortable the whole time.

Another Rohingya girl said: “When I got to the big boat … I cannot explain my feeling I was so scared. We were about 16 people in one small room. The doors were always locked. The smugglers put the food and water through a small hole, we never saw them.”

The abuses continued on land. On May 25, Malaysian government authorities announced they had discovered as many as 139 similar graves in a series of 28 camps on the Malaysian side of the border. This followed the discovery of mass graves in Thailand in May. Thailand and Malaysia need to act immediately to close any remaining camps of victims and offer aid and protection to any survivors found.

Rohingya and Bangladeshis described how they have been held in camps in Thailand and Malaysia until they could pay a ransom. They were beaten and abused if they could not pay. One Rohingya woman who was held in such a camp on the Thai side of the border told Human Rights Watch that she was severely abused to force her relatives to pay up: “The brokers beat me with sticks and bamboo and put out cigarettes on my legs and ankles because I could not raise the money.”

The current crisis was in part sparked after the discovery of mass graves of peoplesuspected to be Rohingya and Bangladeshi. Pretending that the government did not know that Rohingya and others were regularly trafficked and smuggled to camps in Thailand on their way to Malaysia, the Thai authorities began a crackdown on transit camps on May 1. 

The poor treatment of the Rohingya has been accompanied by callous remarks by regional leaders. Burma’s political leaders deny the existence of Rohingya, denouncing them as “illegal Bengalis.” Burmese officials initially denied any of the people in the boats came from Burma. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh said the migrant workers from her country were “mentally sick” and vowed to punish anyone leaving the country illegally. Prime Minister Tony Abbot of Australia called the boat people “reckless” and when asked if Australia would consider resettling any Rohingya found to be refugees, replied, “Nope, nope, nope.” 

Ahead of the regional meeting on “Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean” convened by the Thai government on May 29 in Bangkok, the leaders of Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia should show greater recognition of and respect for the rights of the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis on these boats. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, and other international agencies should be permitted access to survivors of boat voyages to assess their claims for protection in accordance with international standards and to help identify people who are fleeing persecution, those who were trafficked, and those who are migrating for economic reasons. Burma and Bangladesh should hold to account anyone found to be abusing Rohingya and others by coercing them or deliberately deceiving them to embark onto boats, where they are held in atrocious conditions. 

“Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia need to agree to never again engage in pushbacks of people stuck at sea, find any remaining boats, bring the people on board to safe ports, and ensure that their rights are respected,” Adams said. “Just as important, there will be no long-term solution unless Burma ends its rights-abusing and discriminatory policies toward the Rohingya and joins other countries in taking action against smugglers and traffickers who abuse and prey on them.”


On Tuesday Night a joint operation involving Pattaya’s Tourist Police and a team from the Chonburi Provincial Police Special Operations Unit took place and targeted two shops which were reportedly selling Penis and Breast-shaped soap to locals and Tourists. Both shops are located on the South Pattaya Road and owned by the same person and […] Read more...
The Bangkok military court on Tuesday held the first witness hearing in the case where Worachet Pakeerut, courageous law academic from Thammasat University, was accused of defying coup maker’s order twice for not reporting in. 
Observers from Thai and international human rights organizations, US and German Embassies came to observe the trial. 
The public prosecutor filed two charges against Worachet for defying the coup makers’ order No.5/2014, issued on 24 May 2014, and No.57/2014, issued on 9 June 2014. On 10 June 2014, Worachet’s wife reported in on his behalf and reported that Worachet was sick and would meet with the military later. On 16 June 2014, the police arrested Worachet when he voluntarily flew back from Hong Kong. 
Worachet complained to the court that the prosecutor should have filed only one charge for defying Order No.57. The law academic said by issuing the new order, the old one was automatically nullified. 
Facing two charges, Worachet face maximum jail term of four years. 
Lt Col Burin Thongprapai of the military's Judge Advocate General's Office testified at the court as a plaintiff witness. Burin said on behalf of the Army he filed complaint against Worachet without knowing that Worachet’s wife had reported about the health issue.  
After the hearing, about ten Thammasat University students gave him moral support. 
BANGKOK, 26 May 2015: Airports of Thailand reports its April data showed a 21% increase in passenger movements at six airports under its management. AoT reported, Monday, that all of its supervised airports recorded 9,229,347 passengers up 21.27% from 7,610,519 visits during the same month last year. Overall aircraft movements also increased by 14.87% from […] Read more...
BANGKOK, 26 May 2015: To increase domestic travel awareness the Tourism Authority of Thailand has organised “One and Only” contest for Thai citizens. Participants can upload their video clip creations, no longer than one minute duration, and adhering to the  theme “Discover Thainess” to Winners and runners-up will be eligible to win cash and accommodation […] Read more...

OZO Chaweng Samui joins ONYX Hospitality group in support of UNICEF’s Nepal Earthquake Children Appeal. The goal is to provide emergency relief to 1.7 million children and their families. About that many children are now in urgent need of aid in the areas that were worst hit by the earthquake. The 7.9 magnitude earthquake has […]

The post Join in a Good Cause: Help Stop the Tears of Nepali Children Affected by the Earthquake with Ozo Chaweng appeared first on Samui Times.


Following a lively opening to the 14th Samui Regatta last night at Zico’s Brazilian Grill & Bar, it was down to the serious stuff of racing today and with 30 knots blowing at breakfast time, the signs were good. By the time the fleet was out at the startline and IRC Zero into sequence, the […]

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IT'S a hot, oppressively humid summer evening in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern capital. British actor Miltos Yerolemou, who plays Syrio Forel, master sword-fighter in Game of Thrones, and will play something, or someone, in the upcoming Star Wars film, has just sat down with me at a wine bar off the city’s recently requisitioned trendy hub, Nimmanhaemin. Read more...

The criminal court held a preliminary hearing of a man accused of defaming the monarchy on facebook in camera after six months of detention although the defendant claimed that the alleged lese majeste facebook was not his.

Bangkok’s Ratchada Criminal Court on Monday held a preliminary of Piya (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 46 year old man, who was accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, lese majeste law, in camera.

The prosecutor reasoned that the hearing needed to be trial in camera because the case is related the revered Thai monarchy and might affect public morale.

“Because the case is related to the Thai monarchy which is revered by all people, the publicisation of the fact on the case during the proceeding is in appropriate,” said the prosecutor.

Piya was arrested on 11 December 2014. He was charged for allegedly posting lese majeste comments along with the pictures of the King on 27-28 July 2013 under the Facebook profile named Pongsathorn Bantorn, after individuals on the northern province of Nan and the central province of Nakhon Prathom filed lese majeste complaint against him to the Technology Crime Suppression Division.

At the hearing, Piya denied the allegations and said that the alleged lese majeste facebook profile was not his. Since his arrests, he always denied his involvement the lese majeste Facebook profile was not his although the picture on the profile was his picture, which was taken from the defendant’s Twitter and Google Plus account .

The defendant vowed to fight the case to prove his innocence.   

In addition to Article 112, Piya is also charged under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Code, which forbids the importation of illegal computer contents.

The defence lawyer, said that the court will hold a preliminary hearing on the case again in 17 August and that, from 17-20 November, 20 plaintiff's witnesses will testify on the case.   


Animal rights activists have long pushed for the closure of Thailand's infamous 'Tiger Temple'. However, a new and unrelated incident may lead to the tourist attraction's closure more than those detractors' critiques ever could: the temple's abbot was mauled by one of the very creatures that he has fought so steadfastly to keep. Read more...
FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights

Paris, Bangkok, 23 May 2015: Yesterday’s arbitrary arrests of students and activists are the latest example of the Thai military junta’s relentless repression of all forms of peaceful dissent, FIDH and its member organization Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) said today.

“Yesterday’s arbitrary arrests confirm that Thailand is ruled by a brutal dictatorship that has no respect for human rights and no tolerance for dissent,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “The international community must vigorously condemn the crackdown.”

On 22 May, authorities arrested about 50 students and activists during three separate peaceful demonstrations against the May 2014 coup - two in Bangkok and the other in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen.

In Khon Kaen, authorities arrested seven students from the Dao Din group for demonstrating against the coup at the city’s Democracy Monument. The seven were detained at the local Sri Phatcharin Army Camp and charged under junta Announcement 7/2557, which prohibits gatherings of more than five people. They were all released on bail this morning.

In Bangkok, 11 members from the Young People for Social Democracy Movement were briefly detained in the early afternoon at the Chana Songkhram police station after they attempted to hold a political forum at the October 14 Memorial.

In the evening, police and unidentified men wearing civilian clothes arrested at least 30 students who had gathered outside the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre (BACC) to mark the one-year anniversary of the May 2014 coup. Many of the students were forcefully dragged into the BACC before being transported and taken into custody at the Pathumwan police station. Two injured students received treatment at nearby hospitals. All the detained students were released without charges this morning.

“As General Prayuth was reiterating he would return happiness to the people during his weekly televised speech, dozens of peaceful student demonstrators were detained in Bangkok. This perfectly illustrates the contrast between the junta’s empty words and its repressive actions,” said UCL Chairman Jaturong Boonyarattanasoontorn.

FIDH and UCL call on the authorities to end the arbitrary arrests of peaceful protestors. The two organizations also urge the authorities to respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in line with Thailand’s obligations under international law.

Harrison George

International pressure is building on Bangladesh and Myanmar to take urgent measures to save boatloads of stranded asylum seekers in danger of death by drowning or starvation in the Bay of Bengal.  The ramshackle boats, thought to be loaded with Riphab refugees from Thailand, are organized by people smugglers, who prey on the migrants, often selling them into virtual slavery if they manage to make landfall undetected. 

The exodus of asylum-seekers has been going on for years, amid allegations that officials were bribed to turn a blind eye to the trafficking if they were not actively complicit.  But public awareness was raised a month ago by the discovery of mass graves in abandoned makeshift ‘transit camps’ on both sides of the porous Myanmar-Bangladesh border.  The graves are thought to contain the bodies of victims who failed to survive the hazardous journey, though there is evidence that a number had been summarily executed by their captors.

While Bangladesh and Myanmar have come under criticism for their obvious reluctance to allow the boat people ashore, fearing a burden that may last for months if not years, most observers agree that the problem cannot be solved without addressing the root causes of the mass migration in Thailand itself.

The Riphab are a minority group from Thailand, although the government there, now in its fifteenth year under military rule, disowns them and says categorically that they are not Thai and are ‘politically foreign’.  They are denied Thai citizenship, suffer severe discrimination and often see a perilous boat journey to Myanmar or Bangladesh as the only alternative to a wretched existence in their country of origin.

The name ‘Riphab’ is used by the Thai authorities as part of the proof that these people are not truly Thai.  They claim it is an abbreviation of ‘Riphablikan’, which is not a Thai word, demonstrating their non-Thai origin.  The Riphab themselves says that this name is in fact a term of abuse invented by their opponents, and that their true name derives from ‘Sathanarat’, a term of unimpeachably Thai origin.

The Thai authorities have, over the past few years, gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that the Riphab are not Thai.  Physically they are indistinguishable from other Thais and they speak the same language.  Most Riphab claim to have been born in Thailand into families that have lived there for centuries.  Interestingly, the Thai authorities seem to acknowledge that some Riphab have ancestors, or even parents, who are Thai.

Mainstream Thai thinking, however, claims that their political beliefs mark them out as ‘others’ and argue that co-existence between ‘true Thais’ and Riphab is inconceivable.  The most obvious difference between Riphab and Thais turns on their alleged attitude to national institutions.  Most Thais find intolerable their insistence on thinking for themselves and questioning beliefs that most Thais accept automatically. 

While some Riphab clearly hold political views that the Thai establishment wants to extirpate, many have testified that anyone can instantly be classified as Riphab solely on the basis of a denunciation by a ‘right-thinking’ Thai.  ‘If someone wants you out of the way,’ said one victim, ‘they just call you a Riphab, whether you deserve it or not.  Your fate is then sealed.’

Questionable genetic research claims to show that the Riphab are ‘mutants’, which is used to explain why some Riphab seem to spring from otherwise true-blooded Thai families.  The True Thai Eugenics Institute, based for historical reasons in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, claims to have proved that Riphab lack certain genetic material that is required to qualify as real Thais.  Internationally, this research is regarded as suspect and the conclusions have been scientifically challenged.

Others, more pointedly, claim that the Riphab are nothing more than ‘human trash’, a term that has entered the national discourse since it was used by long-standing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.  The Thai National Human Rights Commission uses this argument to justify its lack of interest in the plight of the Riphab, saying that it is responsible for protecting the rights of humans and it is not clear that the Riphab are human.  ‘Trash has no rights,’ one Commissioner is quoted as saying.

Riphab who choose to remain in Thailand can expect to suffer repeated prosecutions under draconian anti-Riphab legislation, social ostracism, and denial of virtually all rights due to citizens.  Importantly, they have been barred from voting in the never-ending series of constitutional referenda, where 27 progressively authoritarian draft constitutions have been submitted by the supposedly interim military government and consistently rejected by the voters.  This explains the impressive longevity of the current administration which has remained in power for over 15 years.


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).


BANGKOK, 25 May 2015: If you dream of becoming a new fresh persona, you have until 31 May to register for Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Thailand Extreme Makeover Session 2. TAT issued its final call over the weekend to boost applications for Season 2 following the huge success of Season 1. Contestants gain a chance […] Read more...

Zico’s Brazilian Grill and Bar is owned and operated by Centara Hotels & Resorts. This popular dining venue opened its doors thirteen years ago after the Centara brought specialist consultants all the way from Brazil to ensure their dining experience was as authentic as possible. They certainly succeeded in their wish and have brought authentic […]

The post Zico’s in Chaweng selected for inclusion in Thailand’s Tatler’s Best Restaurants 2015 appeared first on Samui Times.


Asia’s top yachts have come together at the Thai tropical island of Samui to battle it out for the 14th Samui Regatta honours – the curtain-closing event of the prestigious 2014/15 AsianYachting Grand Prix championship. Held 23rd to 30th May off Chaweng Beach, Samui Regatta comprises five days of racing in the tropics with six […]

The post Samui Regatta 2015 to close out the 2014/15 regional sailing circuit appeared first on Samui Times.

The sophistry of politicians in the face of the Rohingya crisis is astounding. It mainly consists of reality-denial, blame-shifting and creative word play. Now, one Singapore academic has joined in the fray with a supposedly insightful commentary that is really a tragic failure in discursive analysis and a veiled attempt to justify half-hearted responses to the crisis. Read more...
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
For release on 22 May 2015
Today many students groups gathered to express their political views and opposition to the coup. This led to the detention of a large number of students and activists, including the following:
  1. 11 members of Young People for Social-Democracy Movement, Thailand (YPD), who organized a seminar on the topic of "22-22: Community Rights, Liberty, Education,” on the one-year anniversary of the coup, who are detained at Chana Songkhram police station.
  2.  7 students from the “Dao Din” group from Khon Kaen University were first detained at the Sripatcharin Army Camp (23rd Military Circle) and then taken for further detention at the Khon Kaen police station from 3 pm continuing until the present (10 pm). They have been charged with violating Head of NCPO order 3/2558 (2015) forbidding political demonstrations.
  3. 34 students have been detained at the Pathumwan police station from 6:30 pm until the present (10 pm) following participation in a symbolic art event entitled “1 year in which ...” in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center in  order to express their feelings and thoughts from the year that has passed since the events of 22 May 2014.
The view of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights is that the aforementioned detention is arbitrary and derives from the unlawful use of power for the following reasons:
  1. News reports indicate that many students were assasulted by state officials[1] and state officials used unnecessary force in carrying out arrests, to the degree that some had to go to the hospital for treatment.[2] These actions constitute the use of injurious force against peaceful, unarmed protestors. The arrests and detention are arbitrary.
  2. Officials refused to allow lawyers or those trusted  (by the detained) to meet with those detained, which is a right of  arrested individuals per Article 7/1 of the Criminal Procedure Code. They claimed that they had to wait for the order from their commander, but they photocopied the legal licences of the lawyers who asked to be allowed to enter to provide legal assistance. These actions constitute a threat to the lawyers’ carrying out of their duties. Further, to exercise power solely on the basis of the order of the commander is a denial of the durability of the law.
The aforementioned exercise of power by the police and military constitutes a lack of respect for the rule of law and the legal system. To take actions which rely solely on a commander’s orders or the junta’s authority creates terror among the people, as it is the use of power without consideration for the law.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights therefore calls on the authorities to reveal the names ofthose detained and the immediate and unconditional release of the students and activists being detained. We call for the immediate provision of remedies for these actions, including holding the police and military to account under the law.
With respect for the rights and liberties of the people
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
Amnesty International
22 May 2015
The arbitrary arrests of students and anti-coup activists in at least three separate incidents today in Thailand’s capital Bangkok and the north-eastern city of Khon Kaen come as a stark reminder of the ongoing intolerance of peaceful dissent a year into military rule, Amnesty International said today.
“A full year since the Thai military declared martial law and took power, we are seeing how peaceful dissent is still being steamrolled in the streets,” said Richard Bennett, Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“Peaceful protesters must not be arbitrarily arrested or detained just because they raise uncomfortable topics or defy military rule. Anyone held merely for peacefully exercising their human right to freedom of expression must be released immediately and unconditionally and all charges dropped.
“The authorities must respect and even protect peaceful dissent and lift draconian restrictions on expression and assembly in Thailand – in law and practice.”
At around 6:20 pm local time, police detained 20 students and activists in Bangkok, who were about to carry out a peaceful, symbolic protest against the 2014 coup at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, one of the first sites of spontaneous anti-coup protests last year. Police have denied the group access to lawyers, stating that they are awaiting orders from senior officers. At least two activists are reported to have sustained injuries during the arrest and require medical attention. 
In a separate incident in Bangkok at 3 pm today, soldiers and police arrested a student, a pro-democracy activist and a taxi driver at a metro station. They were held at a Bangkok police station and later released.
All three belong to Resistant Citizen, a political protest group, and were on their way to file a criminal complaint at the capital’s criminal court against General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the current Prime Minister, for staging last year’s coup. The group had made their plans public in days preceding the anniversary of the coup. Other members of the group have been detained before for peaceful acts of symbolic protest in the country – including university student Sirawit Serithiwat, Pansak Srithep, whose son was killed by the army during the crackdown on protests in 2010, and taxi driver Wannakiet Chusuwan.
In a third incident, at least seven people were arrested in Khon Kaen, north-eastern Thailand, at the city’s Democracy Monument at around 1 pm, after seven protesters staged a peaceful protest against the coup and forcible evictions of rural communities in extractive and developmental projects. The protesters all belong to Dao Din, a student activist group, and are believed to include members previously arrested for flashing the three-finger “Hunger Games” salute during a speech by General Prayuth in Khon Kaen in November 2014.
News footage shows plainclothes officers breaking up today’s protest before the activists’ arrest. The Dao Din activists were first taken to a military camp and are now being held at a police station in Khon Kaen.
“These are just the latest episodes in the Thai authorities’ continuing repression of public dissent in the country, where many people face imprisonment if they engage in political activities. Authorities have granted themselves extensive powers to restrict and deny rights in the name of security – it is high time that they allowed people to peacefully exercise their rights to dissent,” said Richard Bennett.



Kim has come a long way in her fight to kick cancer, her family, friends and the local as well as international community have come together to give her the financial resources she needs to wage her battle. Here is her lasest update. (To read more about Kim’s journey click here) Hello from Bangkok! Today, […]

The post Help Kim Kick Cancer – an update from Kim appeared first on Samui Times.

Police Major General Nittipong, the Provincial Police Commander, held a press conference at Banglamung Police Station on Friday Morning to announce the results of a province-wide Crime Suppression operation. The operation held over the past 4 days resulted in a total of 74 arrests and the seizure of drugs and firearms. The General confirmed that […] Read more...

Thai military officers arrested anti-junta activists on their way to file a criminal charge against the Thai junta leader for staging coup d’état against the 2007 constitution during the first 2014 coup anniversary.

According to Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group, the police and military officers in uniform and plainclothes on Friday at around 3 pm, arrested Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist and taxi driver, key members of Resistant Citizen, at Lat Phrao Bangkok’s Metro Station.

Sirawit and Wannakiet at Lat Phrao Bangkok's Metro Station on 22 May 2015

The three were arrested while they were on their way to Bangkok’s Ratchada Criminal Court to file criminal charge under Article 113 of Thailand’s Criminal Code against Gen Prayuth Chan-o-chan, the junta leader and prime minister, and other associates, who were involved in staging the 2014 coup d’état.

At around 4 pm, however, the officers brought them to the court to let them submit the complaint against the coup-maker before bringing them to Phahonyothin Police Station.

According to Article 113 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, whoever commits act of violence or threaten to do so in order to overthrow the constitution, legislative, executive, and judiciary power, seizing the administrative power or attempting to separate the kingdom shall face death penalty or lifetime imprisonment.

On Thursday, Pansak and Wannakiet were briefly detained at Lumpini Police Station after they went to the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok to give an invitation letter to the embassy personnel, inviting the them to observe the planned activity at Ratchada Criminal Court.

Pansak arrested and loaded into a van by the police officers on 22 May 2015

The letter was received by Taishi Akimoto, the First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok.

Natchacha Kongudom, another prominent student activist from Thai Student Center for Democracy (TSCD), was also with the group at the metro station to participate in the planned activity.

Last month, the three, including, Anon Numpa, another member of the group who is a human rights lawyer who volunteers for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), were charged with defying the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014 for holding a political gathering of more than five people on 14 February. If found guilty the four could be jailed for one year and fined up to 20,000 baht. 


Yesterday in Samui the two men accused of involvement in the April the 10th bombing in the underground car park of the Central Festival shopping mall denied all charges and said that they will fight in the court to clear their names. In the Koh Samui Provincial Court police applied for their first twelve day […]

The post Suspects in Samui bombing say they are innocent appeared first on Samui Times.

Thaweeporn Kummetha and Pinpaka Ngamsom
The boat people from the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh have become a hot potato among the countries of Southeast Asia. Malaysia and Indonesia say they will temporarily shelter for one year the migrants who land on their shores. Thailand, now ruled by a military dictatorship, has remained firm on its stance that the boat people cannot set foot on Thai soil, but the kingdom will host a multi-national summit on the issue on May 29.
The boat people comprise Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar fleeing state-sponsored ethnic persecution by the Buddhist majority and poverty, and Bangladeshis who are also fleeing poverty. 
Prachatai talked with Vivian Tan, the spokesperson of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Office in Bangkok, about the role of UNHCR in the issue.  
Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have been urged to shelter the Rohingya. Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to shelter them for one year. What can the UNHCR do to help or support the camps?
UNHCR welcomes the commitment announced on Wednesday by the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to resolve the issue of the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in boats in the Bay of Bengal and off the coast of Southeast Asia. This is an important initial step in the search for solutions to this issue, and vital for the purpose of saving lives.
We’re talking to the governments to find out more about the proposed shelters. What we have been helping with – and will continue to do so – is to screen and interview people among the arrivals who are refugees, to assess their protection needs and seek solutions for them.
Are some of the Rohingya boat people refugees from the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar that they fled because the UNHCR and Bangladeshi government did not take good enough care of them?
The people getting on smugglers’ boats in the Bay of Bengal are a mixed group. We estimate that roughly half are Bangladeshi nationals and half are Rohingya from Myanmar and Rohingya who have been living in Bangladesh for many years.
With regards to the Rohingya in Bangladesh: There are two official government-run refugee camps for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. UNHCR works in these camps to ensure the protection of 32,000 registered Rohingya refugees originating in Rakhine state, Myanmar.
In these two camps UNHCR teams coordinate with the local authorities and NGOs to provide shelter, relief supplies, health care, water and sanitation services, education and self-reliance activities. We also ensure that refugees’ documentation is up-to-date, and work on issues related to child protection and gender-based violence in the camps.
These refugees have been in exile for more than 20 years. Many were born in the camps, where movements are restricted and prospects are limited. Many Rohingya feel that there is no future in Bangladesh and no home to return to in Myanmar, especially after the June 2012 inter-communal violence in Rakhine state. 
In addition to the 32,000 Rohingya registered in the two camps, there are an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 unregistered Rohingya living outside the camps – in makeshift sites and local villages. UNHCR, which is not authorized to work outside the camps, is concerned about their protection as they have no legal documents or status. 
Years of desperation and hopelessness have driven many Rohingya in Bangladesh to risk their lives on smugglers’ boats. Many have joined Bangladeshi nationals as well as Rohingya from Myanmar on dangerous journeys in the Bay of Bengal to find safety and stability elsewhere.
Is the UNHCR looking to improve the conditions at the Cox's Bazar camps instead of establishing new camps in other countries as one of the solution?
UNHCR has been working with the Bangladesh authorities to improve living conditions for Rohingya refugees since the early 1990s. In the two government camps, our activities and interventions are done in consultation with the government, i.e. we cannot change structures or start projects without authorization. In addition to the services (health care, water/sanitation, etc.) outlined in the previous answer, in recent years we’ve successfully advocated for more durable shelters to be built and for refugee students to be able to study up to Grade 7 – the first time secondary education has been offered to the refugee population in 20 years. We’ve also been working with refugee committees to empower the community and help them become more self-reliant through vocational training and livelihood projects.
So the registered refugees benefit from these services in the camps but there are few prospects for them to lead productive lives due to the limitations. They cannot return to Myanmar and many are finding it hard to survive in Bangladesh. 
As mentioned above, UNHCR cannot work outside the camps but we have continuously expressed concern about the 200,000-500,000 unregistered Rohingya living in makeshift sites or local villages as they have no documents or legal status to protect them against exploitation, arrest or deportation. 
To stem the outflow of Rohingya from both countries, there is a need to address the root causes of flight. It will involve improving conditions in south-eastern Bangladesh and in Rakhine state.
I can’t speak much for the Bangladeshis who are leaving as economic migrants as that is outside UNHCR’s area of expertise.
There are reports that some of the boat people are not victims of human trafficking. They have instead voluntarily paid agencies to smuggle them to find jobs in other countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. From UNHCR findings, are most of the Rohingya boat people the victims of human trafficking? 
UNHCR is not mandated to conduct screening for victims of trafficking. The Thai government has a national system in place and has screened some Rohingya as victims of trafficking. 
There is a fine line between smuggling and trafficking victims. From our interviews with Rohingya who have survived the journey, some pay the smugglers to go to Thailand/Malaysia but are then held captive for ransom along the way. They are beaten until their family members can pay for their release. Increasingly we are also hearing about people who were abducted off the streets in Myanmar and Bangladesh and forced into the boats. Some were lured by false promises by the smugglers.
What does UNHCR think is the solution to the problem? 
The top priority is to save lives, to rescue those people still stranded at sea and bring them to shore for urgent assistance.
UNHCR and other agencies are ready to support governments in their response, including by helping to screen the arrivals into different groups – refugees, economic migrants, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied children, etc. From there we can assess their different needs and different solutions. 
While it’s important to crack down on the smuggling trade and bring perpetrators to justice, it’s equally important to make sure the victims of their exploitation and abuse get the help they need. 
To address the problem of irregular movements, there is a need to address the root causes in a comprehensive way. In Myanmar there is a need to promote reconciliation among communities, socio-economic equality, the realization of rights for all, and to address issues related to citizenship.
Another way to reduce incentives for people to risk their lives on boats is to create safe and legal alternatives for them to move, including through labour migration schemes, family reunification programmes, humanitarian visas, etc.



A group in Koh Samui are knitting for a good cause and looking for your help. We are a group of “knitters” who are supporting the Sarnelli Orphanage in Northern Thailand by knitting garments for the children. The orphanage has 17 little ones from 6 months to 5 years old and their cold months are […]

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BANGKOK, 22 May 2015: Buoyed by increased spending from Chinese visitors and strong domestic travel the up coming Amazing Thailand Grand Sale should yield better than expected results this year, according to the latest Visa Card assessment. Significant growths were witnessed in both interrnational tourist spend volume and domestic spend through Visa cards at 15% […] Read more...