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Hakeem al-Araibi leaves Thailand to be re-united with his wife in Melbourne – VIDEO

Thaiger

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Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who was facing an extradition trial in Bangkok since his detention in November last year, was heading back to Australia last night after the Bahraini authorities decided to withdraw their extradition request.

Bahrain’s decision yesterday ended all judicial proceedings underway in Thailand. It also ended a tense diplomatic spat between Australia and Bahrain which had Thailand torn between the two Governments.

The 25 year old will now be re-united with his wife back in Melbourne. They were visiting Bangkok for a honeymoon trip on November 27 when al-Araibi was arrested following an Interpol red notice initiated and then later cancelled by the Australian Interpol police.

Al-Araibi play professionally for the Pascoe Vale football team in Melbourne, has a residency permit and refugee status in Australia.

Thai authorities escorted Hakeem al-Araibi through Suvarnabhumi airport early last night where it is believed he boarded a JetStar flight back to Melbourne.

The Thai Attorney General’s International Affairs Department said yesterday that the Foreign Ministry had said that Bahrain wanted to withdraw the extradition request.

The department decided that it would not proceed with the trial against al-Araibi. The office moved a petition before the Criminal Court, stating its intention to withdraw the case, which the court accepted. Thailand and Bahrain do not have a formal extradition treaty but an extradition has been possible in the past “in the spirit of reciprocation and cooperation”.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry says it had learned about the withdrawal of the extradition case by the Thai side but they insisted the 10 year jail sentence on al-Araibi remained in place.

Al-Alraibi had the right to appeal the ruling, while the Bahraini government reaffirmed its right to pursue all necessary legal action against him.

It insisted that an arrest warrant was issued for him because he had jumped bail after being granted special permission to participate in a tournament in Qatar from where he fled to Iran.

Al-Araibi has permanent residency in Australia and has lived there for five years. His arrest and detention by Thai authorities severely strained Australia-Thailand diplomatic ties. Since the arrest of al-Araibi hit global headlines, Canberra has been at the forefront of the demand for his immediate release, arguing that he was a refugee with Australian residency and therefore should not have been arrested to face an extradition trial.

The Australian PM Scott Morrison issued two strongly worded letters to the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha in the lead up to yesterday’s development.

 

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Protests

Activist lawyer contracts Covid-19 in prison

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Activiets lawyer Arnon Nampa has been infected with Covid-19 in prison. (via Wikimedia)

Arnon Nampa, an activist lawyer in jail without bail since February on lese majeste charges has been infected with Covid-19, according to his Facebook page. An anonymous source at the Corrections Department confirmed with Reuters that Arnon had tested positive yesterday and has been sent to the prison hospital for treatment. The department later released a press statement confirming the activist he had Covid-19.

Held without bail for more than 3 months, Arnon has been a leader in the pro-democracy demonstration calling for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, along with a revision of power for the Thai royal family. The protests had gained momentum last summer and still maintain widespread support though the government has cracked down on marches and demonstrations. They have discouraged political dissent by using the lese majeste law, which carries harsh penalties of up to 15 years in jail for anyone who insults royalty in Thailand.

Arnon, who is 36 years old, confirmed this morning he was being taken to the Medical Correctional Hospital in the Chatuchak District of Bangkok. He has been a key legal advisor who helped activists voice a push for reform that was previously unspeakable in Thailand. Once only whispered in private conversations, the call for reform has now been thrust into the spotlight by student protests.

Thailand has seen several outbreaks of Covid-19 within the prison system throughout the country. Clusters in Narathiwat that later spread to Surat Thani prisons as well, and outbreaks in larger prisons in Chiang Mai and Bangkok have recorded about 475 coronavirus infections within prison walls.

The jailed attorney is one of many protesters and activist leaders who have been held for weeks or months without bail on lese majeste charges. 22 year olds Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul are both on a hunger strike to protest being denied bail multiple times. Penguin was hospitalized last week after his health condition worsened, and there are reports that his trial may be delayed after the activist was exposed to Covid-19 by being held in a cell with a prisoner later confirmed to be infected.

SOURCE: Reuters and Coconuts

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket struggles towards herd immunity, vaccine rollout slow in other provinces

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Photo via Facebook/ วัคซีนภูเก็ต (PR Phuket)

So far, 22% of the population in Phuket is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 while the majority of provinces in Thailand have not vaccinated any of the residents, according to data compiled by researcher Peter Scully.

Bangkok, the epicentre of recent infections with more than 15,000 confirmed cases since April 1, has only fully vaccinated 1% of the population. Around 10 million people live in Bangkok. Surrounding areas Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, and Nonthaburi, which have all been hit hard by the recent outbreak, have each only fully vaccinated 1% of their populations.

Despite the recent wave of coronavirus infections, which has made up more than half of Thailand’s cumulative count of confirmed cases and virus-related deaths, the Thai government says they are still moving forward with plans to reopen Phuket to vaccinated tourists by July 1.

The island province has been rolling out a mass vaccination campaign in an effort to administer the 2-dose vaccine to 70% of the population by the end of June to reach herd immunity and reopen to foreign tourists. Tourism officials also plan to reopen Krabi, Phang Nga, Koh Samui, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai.

It’s unclear exactly how many vaccines have been administered on the island of Koh Samui where health officials are rolling out a mass vaccination campaign. Some expats who work as English teachers on the island say they have received the vaccine. According to Peter’s data, 2% of the population in Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Province Population fully vaccinated
Bangkok 1%
Nonthaburi 1%
Phang Nga 1%
Phuket 22%
Ranong 1%
Rayong 1%
Samut Prakan 1%
Samut Sakhon 7%
Surat Thani 2%
Tak 3%

*Data compiled by Peter Scully

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thursday Covid UPDATE: 18 deaths and 1,911 new infections

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The Thai ministry of health has announced the Wednesday tally from Bangkok and the provinces. There has been 18 new Covid-related deaths and 1,911 new infections in the past 24 hours.

The oddly consistent daily tally suggests that the infection rate is steady and not running “out of control”. (The Thaiger is not suggesting anything ‘sinister’ about the numbers but notes, statistically, that there is little variance in the daily figures despite a highly dynamic situation)

29,680 patients are still under state-controlled care. 2,435 people were discharged from care yesterday.

Here are the provinces with the highest number of new infections reported in the past 24 hours…

Bangkok – 739

Nonthaburi – 273

Samut Prakan – 143

Chonburi – 76

Samut Sakhon – 65

Surat Thani – 53

Nakhon Pathom – 47

Ayutthaya – 35

Chachoengsao – 35

Pathum Thani – 31

Nakhon Si Thammarat – 31

The worsening situation in the Klong Toey ‘slum’ area, a community of some 100,000, is the BMA and government’s most pressing issue. There’s been a surge of resources and mass testing in recent days. After recently testing, 1,336 Klong Toey residents over a period of 3 days, results showed 1 in 14 people testing positive. This could produce a new spike in the daily infection total in the next few days.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that, following discussions with Thailand’s Centre of Disease Control relating to foreigners, expats and access to Covid vaccines, a further briefing on the matter will be made today.

On Tuesday, a ministry spokesperson Rungrueng Kitphati rolled back some of the earlier commitments to vaccinate “everyone”, including foreigners with a free Covid vaccine…

“The vaccines right now are only reserved for Thai people who are now at a high-risk level or living in the severe outbreak areas. Expats should wait for a clear policy from the government.”

He flatly denied reports of expats living in Thailand being allowed to register for free vaccines. But did offer a glimmer of hope…

“In the future, the country will provide more alternatives for vaccines so they could have a chance of getting it.”

Hopefully there will be some clarification of those comments. The Thaiger tips there will be another back-flip and foreigners will be offered some access to the next vaccine roll out (pure speculation on our part). We will report the results of that media conference as soon as it’s available.

Thursday Covid UPDATE: 18 deaths and 1,911 new infections | News by Thaiger

 

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