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Plans to ease Arrivals congestion at Bangkok’s airports

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Plans to ease Arrivals congestion at Bangkok’s airports | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Bangkok.com

The government has ordered an increase in the number of check-in counters and officials at Bangkok’s Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports from next month.

It’s understood that the move is a result of severe overcrowding, as both airports struggle to cope with the growing number of tourists in need of visas on arrival.

A government spokesperson says the number of counters at Don Mueang will increase to 16, and that both airports will get more manpower.

The spokesperson also says that PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered that problem-solving guidelines be clearly explained to all airport staff, so that everyone’s in agreement on procedures.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Protests

Motorists told to avoid certain areas in Bangkok as protests planned for today

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Motorists told to avoid certain areas in Bangkok as protests planned for today | The Thaiger

Bangkok motorists are being told to avoid areas where protests are planned to take place today. Kasetsart intersection, Lat Phrao intersection, Rachaprasong shopping district’s Central World shopping mall and 11th Infantry Regiment barracks in Bangkhen are the sites where demonstrators are set to infiltrate.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner says he is most concerned about the Lat Phrao intersection, due to the Redem or Restart Democracy group planning to hold a leaderless protest, which has been prone to violence in the past as demonstrated last Sunday. The group is an offset of the Free Youth movement, which is one of the main groups that have been demonstrating against the military-backed government.

The Redem protesters plan to march from the Lat Phrao intersection to the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road, despite a law announced in the Royal Gazette last night which banned protests, mass gatherings and assemblies. The law stated the reasoning was not political, citing fears over Covid-19 instead.

The newly announced law would give the government a wider range of power in enforcing such public gatherings, with law-breakers being subjected to up to a 40,000 baht fine or up to 2 years in jail. The Redem group is expected to demand the release of core Ratsadon leaders and others being held in jail without bail.

The Ratsadon group reached the outskirts of Bangkok yesterday, after a nearly 250 kilometre-long march from the Thao Suranaree statue in Korat province’s Muang district province. But they were met by police who tried to prevent them from marching further into Bangkok, but eventually allowed them to keep marching until they reached the Kasetsart intersection. The group is expected to end the march tomorrow, at Democracy Monument.

Despite the groups’ plans to ignore the recent law that bans protests, police have warned that they will face charges if they defy the new order. 32 companies of anti-riot police have been placed on standby in light of the expected protests taking place in Thailand’s capital today.

SOURCE: Thai Pbs World

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Thailand

Thailand classified as a “not free” country in Freedom House report

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thailand classified as a “not free” country in Freedom House report | The Thaiger
October protest at the Asok-Sukhumvit intersection in Bangkok / Photo by Caitlin Ashworth

On a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being absolute freedom, Thailand scores at 30, a “not free” country, according to the nonprofit Freedom House. Each year, the organisation reviews the political rights and civil liberties of countries around the world. According to their recent assessment, Thailand has declined in terms of rights and liberties, dropping on the scale from “partly free” to “not free.”

The main reason for the drop on the freedom scale, the organisation says, is “due to the dissolution of a popular opposition party that performed well in the 2019 elections, and the military-dominated government’s crackdown on youth-led protests calling for democratic reforms.”

The Future Forward Party was dissolved in February 2020 after the court found that the founder, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, had made a large donation to the party that exceeded the legal limit. The party’s leaders were then banned from politics for the next decade.

Youth-led protests started in February, but the demonstrations were put on pause due to Covid-19 restrictions banning large public gatherings. Protesters gathered in July as restrictions lifted, but some leaders then faced charges for holding a public gathering, which was still banned under emergency orders.

In October, the prime minister imposed what Freedom House calls a “severe” State of Emergency order in Bangkok that banned gatherings of more than 5 people. Some protesters were arrested for violating the order nearly immediately after it was imposed.

With activists pushing for monarchy reform and an end to the military’s involvement in government, raising subjects considered taboo and unprecedented in Thai society, the Thai government has increased its use of the draconian lèse majesté law. Since November, dozens of activists have faced charges for insulting or defaming the Thai Monarchy.

Freedom House scores countries on topics like the electoral process, questioning if politicians and leaders were elected in free and fair elections, as well as freedom of expression and individual rights.

Thailand’s military seized power in 2014 in a bloodless coup. The 2017 constitution was drafted by a committee appointed by the military’s National Council for Peace and Order. In 2019, the country transitioned to what Freedom House calls a “military-dominated, semi-elected” government.

The 2019 elections were overseen by the Election Commission of Thailand, whose members were appointed by the military. All 250 senators were appointed by the military in 2019 to serve 5 year terms.

In 2020, the combination of democratic deterioration and frustrations over the role of the monarchy provoked the country’s largest anti-government demonstrations in a decade. In response to these youth-led protests, the regime resorted to familiar authoritarian tactics, including arbitrary arrests, intimidation, lèse majesté charges, and harassment of activists. Freedom of the press is constrained, due process is not guaranteed, and there is impunity for crimes committed against activists.

SOURCE: Freedom House

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Riot police officer in Bangkok tests positive for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth

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Riot police officer in Bangkok tests positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
Protest in Bangkok on February 28 / Photo by Thai News Pix

A riot police officer, who was deployed at the recent pro-democracy protests in Bangkok, has tested positive for Covid-19. His supervisor, chief of Wang Thonglang station Ekapop Tanprayoon, says the officer had visited Samut Sakhon, a coronavirus hotspot.

Riot police who worked closely with the infected officer, Somyot Nuamcharoen, are ordered to quarantine. The Wang Thonglang police station and any items the police officer handled are being disinfected, the chief says.

The officer had met up with friends during a visit to Samut Sakhon, just southwest of Bangkok. He travelled to the coastal province on February 18 and returned to Bangkok the next day.

On the 20th, he was deployed to a protest outside of parliament, just after returning from his trip to the “red zone” province. On Sunday, he deployed the protest outside the military barracks in Bangkok. The demonstration turned violent and numerous people were injured.

On Tuesday, his friend from Samut Sakhon tested positive for the virus. The infected officer was tested for Covid-19 that day and his result came back positive yesterday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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