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Potential catastrophe facing Thailand’s elephant camps

Thaiger

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PHOTO: Saengduean “Lek” Chailert with her elephants

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, along with many other camps in Thailand, have been forced to close their doors due to the current Coronavirus situation in Thailand. Apart from resulting in hardship for the elephants, it will seriously hurt Thailand’s tourism industry in the future if no support is forthcoming soon.

And whilst we’re hunkering down in our homes waiting for the virus crisis to pass, what becomes of the elephants?

Saengduean “Lek” Chailert, owner of Elephant Nature Park and founder of Save Elephant Foundation, believes many of the closures will be permanent.

“I have been to visit many of the camps and the situation is very serious.”

“The elephants have been chained up since the tourists stopped coming. They are very stressed and upset. Some have started to attack each other from being chained up all day and several have bite wounds as they are fighting over food. The pregnant elephants are also stressed and not doing well at all.”

What does that mean for the future?

“If there is no support forthcoming to keep them safe, the elephants will either starve to death or may be put onto the streets to beg. Alternatively, some may be sold to zoos and some may be returned to the logging business (which officially banned the use of elephants in 1989). It’s a very bleak outlook unless some financial help is received immediately.”

At Elephant Nature Park, which houses more than 3000 animals, many disabled or emotionally unstable, a frantic fund-raising effort is underway for food and medical needs. Some of the elephants need intensive, regular veterinary care.

Lek thanked donors on her Facebook page saying…

“I have been in touch with more than 30 elephant camp owners to help them find a way out. My ability to help these animals is an extension of your generosity, I cannot do it without your help. There is no amount too big or too small to impact the lives of these animals. 100% of each donation is tax deductible and goes directly to Elephant Nature Park. I will share these donations with elephants in other camps as appropriate.”

HOW TO DONATE

TRUNKS UP is a certified supporting organisation which is currently MATCHING all donations, dollar for dollar, up to US$45,000. Donations can be made via the site.

Where the money will go…

  • US$30 will feed an elephant for a day
  • US$20 will feed a dog or cat for one week
  • US$10 will feed a pig, cow or buffalo for one week
  • US$8 will feed a monkey for one week
  • US$5 will feed a rabbit for one week

Potential catastrophe facing Thailand's elephant camps | News by Thaiger

 

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Protests

University student carves “112” into chest after being charged with violating lèse-majesté law

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Stock photo via Thai PBS World

A Chiang Mai University student now has the numbers of “112” carved across his chest after using a razor blade on himself in defiance of the Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lèse-majesté law. The student took to cutting himself after arriving at the police station to face charges of violating the law. He was also charged with breaching the National Flag Act.

The 23 year old student and his colleague, are facing charges brought by political activist Srisuwan Janya after the duo allegedly placed an altered Thai national flag, featuring critical words against the monarchy, at an exhibition site at the university. Police tried to prevent him from harming himself further, as Vitthaya claimed it was an act of freedom of expression, but he was taken to the police station for first-aid treatment. The other student told reporters that he did not amend the Thai flag as police alleged, citing again, that it was a work of art. Both students are now released, but must come back to report themselves on May 31.

Thasanai Sethaseree, a university lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts, says the use of the Thai national flag in a work of art does not constitute a violation of the Thai National Flag Act. However, the lecturer didn’t comment on whether the words adorning the flag would constitute a violation of the lèse-majesté law, or Section 112 of the Criminal Code of Thailand.

Last Thursday, jailed student activist leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul was granted bail of 200,000 baht after repeated denials of bail requests over the last 2 months. Rung was detained on charges using Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws that carry a 15-year maximum sentence for insulting the royal monarchy and has been held without bail since March 8.

She joined her fellow activist leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak on March 30 in his hunger strike to protest the bail denials. Penguin was recently hospitalised over health concerns due to his hunger strike that began March 16.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Thailand

3 journalists from Myanmar arrested in Chiang Mai

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Stock photo / Photo by Macau Photo Agency for Unsplash

Police in Northern Thailand arrested 3 senior journalists who had fled Myanmar due to orders from the military junta to stop reporting, the director and editor of the news agency Democratic Voice of Burma said in an email to the Associated Press.

The journalists, along with 2 associates, were arrested yesterday in Chiang Mai for allegedly illegally entering Thailand. Police were doing a random search, the editor says.

Since the February military coup in Myanmar, ousting state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi who had won the election in a landslide, more than 750 people have been killed by security forces. The military takeover also led to a clash with ethnic armies who support the anti-coup movement, including the prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union. Around 2,000 Karen refugees have fled to Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province due to violence between the Karen troops and the state military.

The junta has attempted to silence independent news media by arresting dozens of journalists and by revoking licenses that had allowed agencies to report in Myanmar. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, or FCCT, says more than 70 journalists have been arrested since February. The Associated Press says there are currently around 40 journalists in detention in Myanmar, including at least 2 that work for DVB.

Many of the journalists arrested by the military junta are being held for violating Myanmar’s Penal Code which prohibits comments that “cause fear,” spread “false news, agitates directly or indirectly a criminal offence against a Government employee.” The charge carries a punishment of up to 3 years in prison.

The editor of DVB is urging Thai authorities not to deport the detained journalists and activists, saying “their life will be in serious danger if they were to return.” Photos in Thai media shows what looks like a video production studio set up at a home.

“They have been covering the demonstrations in Burma until March 8 – the day the military authority revoked DVB’s TV license and banned DVB from doing any kind of media work.”

The FCCT also released a statement calling on Thai authorities to release the journalists and offer them protection in Thailand.

These 5 individuals would face certain arrest and persecution, if not worse, for their work and association with the DVB, and under no circumstances should they be deported back to Myanmar.

Rather, the DVB journalists and their associates should be released from detention, urgently offered protection, and granted the right to remain temporarily in Thailand.

SOURCE: Associated Press

 

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Crime

Murder of Thai wife may have been 2nd attempt by US man

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PHOTO: Jason Balzar, pictured with his wife before he murdered her, and during his arrest. (via uk.granthshala.com)

The American man accused of the murder of his Thai wife in Chiang Mai has now confessed to the brutal crime. And it may not have been the first time he tried to kill her. The 32 year old man, who was a computer programmer in the United States, admitted that he killed his wife while she was 3-months pregnant. Jason Matthew Balzar is now in custody at Muang Nan police station and has reportedly told police that he stabbed his wife Pitchaporn “Som O” Kidchob in the chest with a knife while she slept.

Police said after stabbing his wife, Jason put her body in a plastic bag and dumped it on the side of the road on Ban Srikerd-Samun Road, about 10 kilometres from their rented home at Tambon Chaiyasathan in the Muang district. A crime re-enactment was held at their home, a common occurrence in Thailand for police to piece together criminal acts and record details.

The murder was not Jason’s first accusation of violent crime, with details surfacing of his 2019 conviction for threatening to murder a woman in the US. There is unconfirmed speculation that the victim of that attack was the same Thai wife murder victim, but in Colorado domestic violence cases withhold the names of victims.

He was sentenced to 2 years of probation after an attack in Longmont, Colorado that was originally charged as attempted murder, but lessened due to a technicality. According to the arrest report, Jason attacked her after she refused sex, hitting her head and pointing a gun at her, which fired near her head. He was again arrested for violating his probation by possessing 73 guns in December 2020.

After confessing to killing his pregnant Thai wife, Jason is being charged with the murder and with concealing her body. The American man claimed that he decided to kill her in her sleep because he was upset that she wanted to leave him. The couple had plenty of rough patches with frequent arguments being common in their household.

The victim’s family don’t believe the murder was a sudden crime of passion. Her sister and mother said they have often seen him carrying a knife.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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