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At least another 60 days in Thai jail for Hakeem al-Araibi

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At least another 60 days in Thai jail for Hakeem al-Araibi | The Thaiger
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Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi now has 60 days to prepare a defence against the Bahraini government’s attempt to extradite him from Thailand. Bahrain’s extradition request was formally accepted for consideration last Friday.

The 25 year old will have to remain in Thai prison for the two months, on top of the two months he’s already been in detention, after he faced the Thai criminal court today to formally lodge his refusal to be extradited to Bahrain.

Hakeem al-Araibi arrived at the Ratchadaphisek criminal court shackled and barefoot with more than a dozen other prisoners. He was surrounded by guards and escorted by guards on either arm. As he was entering the court he shouted “don’t send me to Bahrain”.

In court Al-Araibi stood as the judge read out the allegations against him from the Bahraini government. He told the court he refused to be extradited from Thailand back to Bahrain.

The deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, says his lawyers sought a postponement so they could adequately translate documents but prosecutors said they wanted the case to proceed quickly.

The judge has given his lawyers until April 5 to file a written appeal before the next scheduled hearing on April 22.

Al-Araibi is a 25 year old Australian resident who plays football for the Melbourne-based Pascoe Vale football club. He’s also a refugee from Bahrain and has spent almost 70 days detained in Thailand while his country of birth seeks his extradition.

A high-profile and extraordinarily unified international campaign seeks his return to Australia, but Thailand has insisted on sending him through the court system.

Advocates and supporters of Al-Araibi are calling on FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to initiate immediate sanctions on Bahrain and Thailand to pressure the two governments to allowing Al-Araibi to return to Australia where he already has refugee status, a career and his wife.

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Protests

2 Thai protest leaders immediately re-arrested after being released on bail

Maya Taylor

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2 Thai protest leaders immediately re-arrested after being released on bail | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Authorities have re-arrested 2 of the leaders at the centre of anti-government protests right after they were granted temporary release on bail. Panasaya Sitthijirawattanakul, known as “Rung”, and Parit Chivarak, aka “Penguin”, were released yesterday from Patum Thani prison, north of Bangkok. They were being held on charges of violating the emergency decree and released alongside fellow protester Nutchanon Pairote, after Thammasat University professors paid bail of 200,000 baht for each of them.

What is the meaning of the 3-finger salute? Watch below…

But they were promptly re-arrested on the basis of another warrant issued by police in the Bangkok sub-district of Chana Songkhram, this time charged over another mass gathering in violation of the emergency decree. They are being held pending another detention request being filed by police with the Dusit Municipality Court in the capital today.

It’s understood fellow activist, Nutchanon Pairote, who was apprehended alongside Panasaya the first time, and also released on bail, has not been re-arrested. He says protesters are celebrating after Cabinet approved a debate on re-drafting the Constitution.

“It is our first victory. We still cling to our 3 core demands in order to make Thailand a truly democratic country. If there is another gathering tomorrow, I will insist on going as I can’t leave any of my friends out there who are dedicating their time to fight for the country.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Tourism

From 40 million visitors to 41: first STV tourists arrive

Maya Taylor

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From 40 million visitors to 41: first STV tourists arrive | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

In 2019, almost 40 million tourists arrived in Thailand. Yesterday, it was 41. As the Thais say, cha cha… Thailand is slowly, slowly, re-opening its borders after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a total shutdown in March. Yesterday, the Kingdom welcomed its first tourists in 7 months, with the arrival of 41 Chinese tourists from Shanghai. The group landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on a chartered flight laid on by Spring Airlines, a low-cost Chinese carrier.

The visitors are here on the recently-launched Special Tourist Visa and upon touchdown, had to download a special app to track their movements while in Thailand. Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, also confirmed they will carry out 14 days’ quarantine, before they are free to travel around. The STV grants them a stay of up to 90 days and can be extended twice.

“Most of them planned to visit the beach and they already reserved hotel rooms.”

For anyone wishing to apply for the STV, your first port of call will be your local Thai Embassy and this website. Good luck!

Meanwhile, the southern island of Phuket had been expecting to welcome around 120 Chinese tourists on October 8, but that visit never materialised, with various reasons given for the delay. Some officials pointed to the island’s legendary vegetarian festival, which is currently underway, saying they did not want to deter domestic tourists who might be afraid of an increased risk of the virus from ‘tourists’. Others said it was simply because officials on the island wouldn’t have the manpower to deal with both events. And others still pointed to the small matter of nobody having applied to come.

The STV scheme appears to be finally up and running however, even if Phuket appears to have been left out of the picture for now. Yuthasak confirms another 147 Chinese tourists are scheduled to land at Suvarnabhumi on October 26, adding (very optimistically) that they’re expected to spend around 800,000 baht each while here.

Thai Airways has also confirmed it will bring 120 visitors from Shanghai to Bangkok on October 28. This group will consist of various categories, including tourists, repatriating Thais, and others arriving on ‘medical’ visas (people can apply to come to Thailand for various medical procedures).

In 2019, the Chinese made up the vast majority of foreign arrivals in the Kingdom, at around 10.99 million, just over a quarter of the total number of international tourists. Yuthasak is hopeful the return of international visitors is the beginning of the tourism sector’s recovery. It’s almost certain there’s a very long and winding road ahead.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Man arrested for growing 108 cannabis plants in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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Man arrested for growing 108 cannabis plants in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77kaoded

Police arrested an Argentinian man for growing cannabis at his house in Samut Prakan, just southeast of Bangkok. 35 year old Sagas Nur told police he planned to produce cannabis oil.

Medical marijuana is legalised – with limitations – while recreational marijuana is still classified as a category 5 narcotic. Sagas is facing charges of producing a category 5 narcotic. He could face 2 to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 1,500,000 baht.

Police were tipped off about Sagas’ alleged growing operation. They searched the house and say they found 108 cannabis plants that were about 1.5 metre high. Sagas allegedly told police he bought the seeds online with the intention to grow plants and then produce cannabis oil.

Thailand legalised medical marijuana in 2018, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. Recreational marijuana trafficking and operations continue to be busted by police while the government studies medical marijuana with plans to tap into the global market. The Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul even helped plant cannabis seedlings at a government-run facility with 1,300 plants.

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | South China Morning Post

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