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Protest organisers have been silenced for Tuesday’s anniversary of the Thammasat University Massacre

Thaiger

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The 44th anniversary of the 1976 Thammasat University massacre on October 6 will be commemorated by the university. But 3 prominent organisers of the latest round of student protests, attracting up to 30,000 people, will be denied an opportunity to speak at the event.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, and human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, will not be permitted to address the audience during the university’s forum which marks the 44th anniversary of the seminal incident in Thai political history.

Krisadang Nutcharus, an organising committee member for this year’s annual commemoration made the announcement on his Facebook page yesterday.

“The leaders, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, and lawyer Arnon Nampa are not permitted to speak at this year’s forum.”

Thammasat university officials offered no further explanation, simply responding by saying they “felt uncomfortable with the presence of the 3 pro-democracy leaders at the forum”.

Recent student protests, peppered with opposition MPs and other Thais wanting to vent their anger at the current government, have turned up in large numbers at rallies since July. Their demands, made abundantly clear in a 10 point manifesto, not only include an overhaul to the current government and Constitution, but also have stepped over a cultural grey line and called for reform of the country’s Monarchy and royal institutions.

The events of October 6, 1976 are still a raw issue in Thailand, over 40 years later.

Last year’s 43rd anniversary of the killing of students by police and ultranationalist forces – which has become known as the Thammasat University Massacre – was commemorated quietly as relatives and others gathered at the Thammasat University site in Bangkok. The political environment, only 6 months after the general election, was very different to the current frisson of Thailand’s students. Last year the University made this statement on the anniversary.

“October 6, 1976, is a date that still haunts the government and people of Thailand. State forces massacred scores of student activists on this day, on the lawns of Thammasat University in Bangkok.

The campus had been occupied by leftist student demonstrators who opposed the return to Thailand of a former dictator. The military and arch royalists accused them of being “antimonarchical communists”, and the military, police and right-wing paramilitary forces had the university surrounded.”

The Thammasat University massacre was a violent crackdown by Thai police and lynching by right-wing paramilitaries and bystanders against leftist protesters who had occupied Bangkok’s Thammasat University Tha Prachan Campus and the adjacent Sanam Luang, on October 6, 1976. Before the massacre, 1000s of students, Thai workers and other “leftists” had been holding ongoing demonstrations against the return of former dictator Thanom Kittikachorn to Thailand since the middle of September that year. Officially, 46 were killed and 167 were wounded. Unofficial reports state that more than 100 demonstrators were killed.

Meanwhile, the Free Youth group, 1 of 3 key groups who have been organising the recent spate of protests, has announced it will hold its next rally on October 14 at Democracy Monument. The last rally there in August attracted 10,000+ people to the rally. The UFTD, the groups which has added reform to the monarchy in its demands, is expected to take part in the rally.

Despite the numerous rallies and calls for bold reform, the government is doing nothing to address any of the key points brought up by the students, beyond mulling a committee for constitutional reform, which it has now postponed anyway. Meanwhile, the largest rump of anti-government opposition, the Pheu Thai Party, has recently overhauled its executive, steering them away from previous tacit support for the student’s demands from the former executive.

The party has also been ‘rocked’ by the reappearance of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s former wife, who has taken a low-key role in the party’s activities in recent times, having an audience with His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen 11 days ago at the Dusit Palace. It has been speculated that she will have an undisclosed role in the Pheu Thai party’s new executive.

 

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Bangkok

Stricter Covid-19 rules for Bangkok area construction sites

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Cramped conditions have led tighter Covid-19 safety restrictions for construction housing sites.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has set out instructions to large construction companies and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to implement stricter regulations to curb Covid-19 in worker housing facilities. The decree comes after clusters of outbreaks were found at housing facilities at construction sites in the Wattana and Laksi districts. The CCSA spokesmen cited cramped living conditions and a mix of nationalities and culture as contributing factors that make Covid-19 infection spread easily in worker housing sites.

Construction companies specifically in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan were requested to tighten up safety measures. The decree affects some 400 construction sites within Bangkok and its three neighbouring provinces. The BMA estimates as many as 34,600 foreign migrant workers, generally Burmese and Cambodian, living in these facilities along with about 24,600 Thai employees.

The CCSA says the proximity and living conditions in the staff housing facilities are causing Covid-19 to spread at a much higher rate. While Suan Luang district had an 8.85% infection rate, construction housing in Wattana was found to have a rate of infection of around 14.25%.

Staff housing at construction sites, markets, and factories have often been the site of major Covid-19 clusters and Coronavirus spread. At the height of the second wave of Covid-19 in Thailand at the beginning of the year, the Central Shrimp Market in Samut Sakhon had such a large outbreak throughout the Burmese migrant workers there, that the staff dorms and the market were completely sealed off. The entrances and exits were barricaded and locked up, with nobody allowed in and those inside not permitted to leave.

The CCSA hinted that if these new tougher restrictions and safety measures don’t curb new Covid-19 outbreaks and any more Coronavirus spread, a similar lock-in may be implemented in the Bangkok area construction site.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

1,000 to 6,000-patient field hospital opened at IMPACT complex

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: IMPACT exhibition centre has opened a huge field hospital.

IMPACT Muang Thong Thani exhibition centre in Nonthaburi has just opened as a massive field hospital that will be supervised by the Public Health Ministry. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda were all in attendance for the launch yesterday.

Situated in the northern suburb of Bangkok, the huge commercial complex has ample space in a variety of buildings. IMPACT Muang Thong Thani houses on its grounds multiple exhibition halls, a convention centre, and an arena.

Operating under the name Bussarakham Hospital, the huge venues of IMPACT can currently hold 1,092 patients in its initial opening, but if needed there is room to expand to a max capacity of 4000 to 6,000 people. The public and private health sector collaborated to build and maintain the Covid-19 emergency overflow facility.

So-called yellow-coded Covid-19 patients, those who have slight to severe symptoms, will be the primary patients treated at the IMPACT field hospital. Emergency medical equipment like respirators are on hand in the event of a patient’s condition worsening suddenly though. The hospital will employ a total medical staff of 780 people. 260 medical staff members will be on duty at any given time, working 3 shifts divided between the staff.

The IMPACT field hospital was set up in just one week with the help of all the involved partners. The Public Health Minister touted the success of the project, saying that it is set up to care for patients physical and mental needs with comfort.

“Apart from the treatment zone, the hospital also provides a relaxing zone where patients can stay watching movies and exercise under good ventilation all around the area while staying socially distanced.”

Anutin also made a point to reassure area residents that converting IMPACT into a field hospital will not interrupt or negatively affect the local community.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Crime

Man charged with rape of 36 women in Bangkok area

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Denphum Wattanachotipinyo has been charges with rape with more than 36 victims.

A serial rapist with complaints from 36 female victims from the end of 2020 until the beginning of this month has officially been charged with rape. Mr Denphum Wattanachotipinyo committed rape, theft, fraud, and deception in the Bangkok area and was arrested Wednesday in Sai Mai. He is 39 years old and is believed to be from Nontha Buri.

Thonburi Court issued a warrant for his arrest on May 4, and he was arrested on May 11 with coordination by the Commander of the Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police after escaping capture for several days. After appearing in court in Bangkok, he is now in Thonburi Prison for the rape charges. An extension was granted for police to hold him in until May 24 as evidence is gathered and charges are formalized.

Police requested that bail be denied as they worry Denphum may interfere with witnesses and is a flight risk considering the seriousness and the violent nature of his charges. During his imprisonment, police will review five other testimonies and take statements from any more witnesses. They will also examine medical reports for the first woman who reported a rape to the Bang Khun Thian Police Station in Bangkok on May 2 that launched the probe that brought down Denphum.

Two women have testified with similar details, alleging that they were victims of violent rape in his luxury condo in the Sathorn area of Bangkok, one on February 8 and one on May 1. Both say they were held at knifepoint with their lives threatened after being forced to take crystal meth. They came to his room under the promise of paid work. Many of the victims stated that they were robbed or forced to give Denphum money in addition to the brutal rape.

He’s being charged for the rape cases in Bangkok with multiple violations under Sections 276 and 309 of the Criminal Code. Section 276 involves sex with women against their will when they cannot resist. Section 309 involves creating fear of bodily harm or death in women. Each count of the latter can be punishable by up to 5 years in jail, while the rape convictions would carry sentences of between 4 and 20 years.

SOURCE: Thai Examiner

 

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