Hundreds of members of the United Front of Patriotic Thais for the Protection of Thai Territory (UFPTP), led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong, gathered at the Royal Plaza at 11am and paid their respects to the King Rama V statue. They then formed a procession and marched to the Makkhawan Rangsang Bridge to submit a letter to the UN office.
Before the march, Chaiwat announced his group was invoking Articles 70 and 71 to protect the national interest by rejecting the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple. Chaiwat said his group wanted to advise the UN that Thais would never accept ICJ jurisdiction and they opposed the government and politicians who “betrayed” the nation by handing over national interests to others.
Chaiwat submitted the UFPTP letter to Adnan Alini, an adviser to the UN office in Bangkok. The letter was supported by copies of 1.2 million signatures Chaiwat claimed his group had gathered in opposition to the ICJ’s involvement. The UFPTP demonstrators moved on to army headquarters and submitted a letter to the Army chief via Lt-Colonel Satit Wongsamlee, an officer on duty at the Army Secretariat.
The protesters then marched to the Supreme Court and submitted a letter to the court president via a court official. Chaiwat read a statement in front of the court, demanding the judiciary counter-balance the government’s power to stop it from giving away the country’s sovereignty. The group dispersed at 2.30pm. Chaiwat said his group would rally on Kood Island in Trat on February 2.
Meanwhile, Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he hoped the UFPTP would not break the law in its demonstrations.
He said the army and the government were waiting for a ruling from the ICJ before planning the next move.
The Army chief said he preferred bilateral talks with the Cambodian government on how to settle the dispute over the land plot near the Preah Vihear Temple.
PHUKET: A 12-year-old boy became the latest victim of the violence in the deep south while travelling on a motorcycle with his stepfather and mother in Pattani’s Nong Chik district last night.
Nawaphol Li succumbed to head injuries at Nong Chik Hospital while his stepfather, Narong Kongtong, 45, was seriously injured from gunshot wounds to his shoulder and torso. The boy’s mother, Noknoi Li, survived unscathed.
The three were heading to their rented home on a motorcycle after shopping at a department store when two armed men started trailing them. Police said Narong, who was riding pillion with Nawaphol in the middle, became suspicious of the men and told Noknoi to pull away. However, the man riding pillion on the pursuing motorcycle opened fire then fled the scene.
Seeing her husband and son injured in the attack, Noknoi took them immediately to Nong Chik Hospital. The boy died shortly afterwards.
PHUKET: Ethnic Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar deserve the attention of ASEAN as their problems are huge, a panel of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says.
Panel chairwoman Angkhana Neelapaijit spoke yesterday after visiting some Rohingya people in Narathiwat.
More than 800 Rohingya were found to have illegally entered southern Thailand earlier this month to escape alleged violence in Myanmar. The news put the media spotlight and public attention squarely on them.
The Rohingya are a Muslim minority community from Rakhine state in western Myanmar.
“This issue is big. It should be addressed at the ASEAN level. Myanmar is also a member of the regional grouping,” Angkhana said.
NHRC chairwoman Amara Pongsapich visited the Rohingya people with Angkhana.
At the same time, Senator Jate Sirataranont urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to raise the issue of the Rohingya with Nay Pyi Taw, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
“We need to find a balance between humanitarian issues and security concerns,” he said.
Angkhana said the Thai government must also discuss the Rohingya with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration, the Red Cross and Unicef.
Jate argued that Thai authorities must send the Rohingya refugees to a third, Muslim country as fast as possible. However, as the process may take time, he believed the government should set up more temporary shelters for them.
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, however, expressed concern about creating more shelters for the Rohingya. “We can’t take in too many people otherwise problems will arise in the long run. We have to take care of our national security,” he said.
It has been claimed there are more than 130,000 Rohingya in Thailand – although rights activists have suggested the figure is a fraction of that. But no third country has expressed an interest in taking them so far.
Prayuth said Thai authorities should only provide humanitarian aid pending deportation of the Rohingya back to their homeland, or their move to a third country.
“We won’t ignore the humanitarian principles but we also must pay attention to our national interests,” he said.
He threatened action against any soldier involved in smuggling the Rohingya, given more claims of officers demanding money to escort refugees or economic migrants who want help to enter Malaysia.
Ranong Tourism Association adviser Nit Ouitekkeng said the number of illegal migrants in the province was growing fast and it had caused social, public-health, environmental and security problems.
“This means our province’s tourism potential is hurt. We are worried about safety problems,” she said, pointing out that thefts – sometimes blamed on the refugees – had taken place.
— Phuket Gazette Editors
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