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13 trafficked Laotian girls, women freed in Chumphon

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

13 trafficked Laotian girls, women freed in Chumphon
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A joint police and military team of 30 officers raided a karaoke business in Chumphon yesterday and rescued six underage Laotian girls and seven Laotian women who were trafficked into prostitution in the southern province.

All 13 victims are from Vientiane.

Sojirat Kuyukham, 38, who owns and manages the business, was arrested.

Acting on a tip-off, an official disguised as a customer paid Sojirat 1,200 baht for sex at the business. The official went into a room with a girl and phoned the joint team.

They invoked martial law, which has been in effect since May 22, to search the shop without a warrant. The officials seized 39,000 baht, condoms, a pistol and five bullets, six bank account books, two Laotian passports and a mobile phone as evidence.

Sojirat was charged with trafficking underage girls (older than 15 but younger than 18) and procurement of underage girls into prostitution.

Police also searched a nearby house and found bankbooks for 15 accounts, six of which belonged to Sojirat, with the nine others in the names of well-known people in Chumphon.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Myanmar

Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border

The Thaiger

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Myanmar’s Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | The Thaiger

Myanmar is currently suffering a wave of Covid-19, causing concern in Thailand as its western border authorities bump up security measures and patrols. Burmese authorities have been introducing increasingly draconian restrictions to control the sudden spread of the virus over the past 4 weeks. Whilst the case load is still relatively small, the concerns are focussing on the porous western borders of Myanmar onto adjacent Bangladesh and India, as well as the spike in cases in the largest city Yangon. The current rise in cases originally broke out in the western Rakhine state and the city of Sittwe about a month ago.

Yangon is now under lockdown as the city is quickly turning into the country’s hotspot of Covid-19.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

Yangon’s lockdown rules have paralysed the city. Almost all its businesses are closed, with the exception of essential services, and people must have a permit from their district administration to attend work.

All domestic travel – buses, taxis, trains, planes – is now shut down and the country’s schools are closed. Even driving a car around Yangon at the moment requires a permit from the city administration. When it comes to food, only one person is allowed to leave the home at a time and exercising outside is not allowed. Even if there’s a medical emergency only 2 people may leave the home but must have permission from their district administrators. Residents are not allowed to visit neighbour’s homes and 2 people outside is considered a ‘gathering’.

Of course everyone must wear a face mask whilst outside and in public places.

Curfews remain in place in most areas and checkpoints have now been set up around the region. Even the public service has been told to remain at home and work remotely until further notice. Some parts of Yangon are now under even harsher lockdowns with a ‘Chinese style’ lockdown where people are not permitted to leave their home for any reason at all the aid workers patrol the area handing out supplies and food. (When the city of Wuhan and the state of Hubei were locked down in the earliest phases of the Covid-19 virus, the lockdowns were similarly draconian, and ultimately effective)

There were 671 new cases of Covid-10 in the past 24 hours, the biggest spike, by far, since the outbreak began. The cumulative total number of infections is now 5,541 while the death toll remains at 92 people.

Myanmar's Covid-19 spike causes mass lockdowns as Thai authorities scramble to seal the border | News by The Thaiger

Across the border, in Thailand, officials have increased checkpoints and border patrols along the long and leaky jungle border region. Thais living along the border are being asked to report strangers and minimise their movement around the border zones, traditionally busy local hubs for trade. Thai officials fear there will be a migration of Burmese trying to flee the country as the crackdown on movement causes panic in the country.

In a predictable explanation about a recent case of a 2 year old Burmese child who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, Thai health authorities now say the child “may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar”.

The health department says they speculate that the child “was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town”. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya, Central Thailand, and quit their jobs last month. The department says the infant probably contracted the virus around September 4 – 10 while the family was travelling. The family crossed unofficial passageways, not passing through a checkpoint, into Myanmar. News website Xinhua claims it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

SOURCES: Pattaya News | Xinhua | Reuters

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth

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Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger
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The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.

SOURCE:Xinhua

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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

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Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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