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DNA tests confirm Phuket sea gypsy village “of 100 years’

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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DNA tests confirm Phuket sea gypsy village “of 100 years’ | Thaiger

PHUKET: DNA tests on skeletal remains unearthed at the sea gypsy village in Rawai have confirmed that seafaring nomads have used Phuket’s southern beach to call home for more than 100 years.

“The bones were buried deep in the ground at least 60 years ago,” said Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Director Chatchawal Suksomjit.

The DNA from the bones matched that of Nim Luckkor, the 65-year-old man who lives in the house built over the site where the bones were found, he explained.

“This evidence supports the villagers’ claims that they have lived here for more than 100 years,” Gen Chatchawal said during a visit to the Rawai sea gypsy village late yesterday afternoon.

A team of DSI officers excavated the bones – parts of a skull, arm, leg and chest – from under the house in August last year (story here).

However, Mr Luckkor said yesterday that he had no idea whose bones they were.

“I have been living here for so long. I had no idea someone was buried under my house until officials discovered the bones last year,” he said.

The positive DNA match of the bones to a living sea gypsy resident in the village may help bolster the gypsies’ claim to have lived on the land for generations.

Establishing long duration of residency is a key element in the gypsies’ fight against private investors who have already won court orders to evict some villagers from the site (story here).

“More than 100 villagers have been sued for encroaching on private land,” said Gen Chatchawal.

“Nine families have been ordered by the court to move from their homes, but the case is under appeal and none have left the community.”

Gen Chatchawal explained to villagers that the DSI will do its utmost to provide evidence to support the villagers’ right to continue living at the village.

“We hope the court will consider the evidence and dismiss the private land claims,” he said. “But it is now up to the court, and we cannot interfere in its decision.”

Gen Chatchawal did not suggest an explanation for how private businessmen came to be issued land titles for plots inside the sea gypsy village now that the DSI’s investigation has proved that the villagers have lived at the site for more than a century.

However, just hours before his visit to the Rawai sea gypsy village yesterday, Gen Chatchawal announced that he will order the Land Office to hand over records and copies of land titles for plots along the border of – or allegedly in – Phuket’s Sirinath National Park (story here).

At that press conference, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) director Samak Donnapee accused the Land Office of blankly refusing to hand over public records to officers investigating private investors’ claims to land inside the park.

Many of those investors have also somehow been issued land titles for plots in question.

The sea gypsies in Rawai expressed deep gratitude to Gen Chatchawal for the DSI’s efforts on their behalf.

“I am so happy the DSI is helping us. I do not know what to say,” said community leader Ngeem Damrongkaset.

Nang Deeden, 75, said that his sister was one of the people being sued for encroaching on private land.

“I hope the evidence helps her in court,” he said. “But we are not going anywhere. We have been living here for 100 years.”

Yah Deeden, 72, expressed her thanks.

“I am very happy that the DSI is helping us. Without them we do not know what to do,” she said.

“We have lived here for many generations. We have nowhere else to go.”

— Chutharat Plerin

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Education

Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation”

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Phuket student protests and is flunked as “not loyal to the nation” | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Student protests led to one student not graduating due to being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”

After participating in protests for student’s rights, a Phuket student was barred from graduating 9th grade, moving from middle school to high school, charged with being “not loyal to the nation, institution of the monarchy”. The student had advocated against mandatory uniforms and for student’s liberties. He told reporters that the school started paying attention to his actions last year when he participated in rallies in solidarity with students across Thailand. The school’s student affairs office received a copy of posts he made on social media encouraging others to join the cause. The school ordered a stop to his political actions, but he and his friends disregarded warnings and violated school rules when they handed out white ribbons to classmates. They received a warning from the student affairs office.

Student protests have increased after pro-democracy demonstrations surged in July last year, empowering many Thai people to speak out against injustices, including students’ rights and liberties. People from schools across the nation have been banding together in solidarity to bring their issues to public light.

On graduation day, all the students were promoted into high school, except for the one student protestor, says the Bad Student protest group. The theme of the day focused on dedication to the monarchy, country and religion, and specifically how students should be obedient. The student said he has received support from friends, but his parents remain neutral and his teachers have been completely silent on the matter. He is frustrated that he was punished for his right to express himself. He plans on testing with incoming students to re-enrol in the same school, and if he is not accepted because of the disloyalty charge, he will pursue legal ramifications, suing the school for blocking his right to an education over the student’s protests.

The student believes he needs to speak out to prevent school administrators from imposing on more students’ rights. He advocates for diversity in schools and ending prejudices, with increased liberties and freedoms for students.

“Schools must teach children to be able to think by themselves, not force children to think like them. Schools should create opportunities for students to express their ideas more freely.”

SOURCE: Prachatai

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket

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16 more Covid infections reported today in Phuket | Thaiger
iTrip.com

Phuket is reporting 16 more infections today. It follows visits from Bangkok and last weekend’s Kolour Beachside parties that have resulted in a number of new Covid infections. The number of new infections has reached 26. But deputy governor Vikrom Jakthee says the province has been successful in containing the new outbreak “due to its quick response measures which now include shuttering bars and nightlife venues.

One of the confirmed cases is a male teacher from Headstart International School in Kathu who, after attending the parties on the weekend, was back teaching students on Monday and Tuesday. The school has sent a letter to all parents advising them of the situation and organising testing for anyone who may have come in contact with the teacher.

The closure order in Phuket comes just as the island province was expecting to get an influx of visitors for Songkran, the Thai New Year. Many bar and club owners were expecting some increased traffic during the holiday week. Phuket officials say they will explain to bar and club owners why they decided to close the venues during the critical week for business.

Vikrom previously cited the start of the island’s Covid vaccine roll-out of Covid starting to head towards a herd immunity in time for the province’s proposed July reopening to international tourists. But he admitted that the sudden appearance of the coronavirus on the island again will force officials to reevaluate the schedule for reopening. He also said that almost all cases were in younger age groups of people in their 20s and 30s.

“Today, the number of infected people reported in Phuket has reached 26, many are from entertainment venues. This figure is relatively high. It jumped from 10 to 26 cases. We will invite operators of entertainment places in for discussions.”

Partygoers who went to any of the Kolour Beachside parties in Phuket last weekend are being asked to visit a local hospital for a Covid test. The parties hosted more than 3,000 people, drawing concern after a musician tested positive for Covid-19, having attended all 3 parties. The Phuket Provincial Government and Phuket Provincial Public Health Office released a statement yesterday advising all partygoers to get tested.

“Those who attended the Kolour parties from April 2 to 3 at Shelter Phuket Dance & Night Club in Patong, Cafe Del Mar Phuket in Kamala and Illuzion nightclub on Bangla Road in Patong are asked to get tested.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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