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Human Rights Watch calls for probe into alleged Rohingya shootings

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Human Rights Watch calls for probe into alleged Rohingya shootings | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) today issued a statement calling for the Thai authorities to investigate reports of Royal Thai Navy sailors opening fire on a boatload of Rohingya off the Phang Nga coast, north of Phuket, allegedly killing at least two of the refugees.

“Rohingya fleeing Burma should be given protection, not shot at,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Thai government should urgently investigate why sailors opened fire on boat people helpless in the sea and prosecute all those found responsible.”

According to the press release, survivors of the incident told HRW that on the morning of February 20, Thai fishermen helped their drifting boat ashore on Surin Island off the coast of Phang Nga province.

On that same day, at about 6:30pm, Thai navy patrol boat TOR214 arrived at the island and towed their boat back to sea. The patrol boat and the Rohingya boat arrived near a pier in Kuraburi district, Phang Nga, at around 5am the next day.

According to the survivors and Thai villagers on the shore, navy personnel from the patrol boat began to divide the Rohingya into small groups in the boat and ordered them to get ready to board smaller boats.

At that point, the Rohingya became uncertain whether they would be taken to immigration detention on the mainland or be pushed back to sea. When the first group of 20 Rohingya was put on a smaller boat by the Thai navy, some panicked and jumped overboard, said the report.

“Navy personnel fired into the air three times and told us not to move,” one survivor told Human Rights Watch. “But we were panicking and jumped off the boat, and then they opened fire on us in the water.”

Four Rohingya who swam to shore were rescued by local Thai villagers. Thai security forces searched the area for two days after the incident, but the villagers kept the survivors hidden.

The bodies of two Rohingya reportedly showing bullet wounds were later pulled from the sea and buried in a Muslim cemetery in Kuraburi district, said HRW.

Thai fishermen told Human Rights Watch they saw more dead bodies in the water but had no more information. The fate of the remaining passengers on the boat remains unknown after it was towed away by the Thai navy.

Human Rights Watch called on the Thai government and the National Human Rights Commission to conduct thorough and transparent investigations into the shooting. If unnecessary or excessive force is found to have been used, all those responsible, including officers who gave orders to fire, should be prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.

“Whenever the use of force is unavoidable, they must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. The intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” said the press release

DENIAL

Vice Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan, Commander of the Third Naval Area, who is responsible for all naval operations along the Andaman coast declined to comment on the story to the Phuket Gazette.

One media report quoted him as saying that he refused to comment because the story only served to “tarnish the reputation of the Royal Thai Navy”.

ABC News in Australia reported receiving a statement from Vice Admiral Taratorn denying that navy sailors opened fire on the refugees.

Likewise, one of the top-ranking officers at the Kuraburi District Police declined to comment in detail about the incident, saying, “I am aware of this story. It is only a rumor to discredit Thai officers. There was no such shooting.”

The officer, who asked not to be identified, did not disclose how he became aware of the story. He also offered no explanation as to what investigation – if any – had proved the rumors to be untrue.

Surin National Park Chief Rattanachart Noikondee told the Gazette he received no reports from park rangers or from villagers living within the park of any shootings.

Phang Nga MP Kantawan Tanthien, quoted by one news report as recently as Monday confirming that the shooting took place, today was unavailable to confirm the report to the Gazette.

MP Kantawan would be “unavailable for days to come”, the Gazette was told.

BODIES

However, the senior Kuraburi District Police officer the Gazette spoke to did confirm that two bodies were pulled from the water in the same area at about the same time as the alleged naval shootings.

The condition of the bodies made it impossible for police to determine whether or not the men were shot, said the officer.

“In fact, we are not sure if the bodies were Rohingya or Burmese fishing boat crew,” he said.

The bodies were sent to Kuraburi Chaipat Hospital for further examination. Hospital staff there told the Gazette that post-mortem examinations, including x-rays, failed to produce any evidence of bullet wounds.

“The bodies were then handed back to the authorities,” one staffer who declined to identified, said.

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Phuket

82 year old Frenchman killed in motorbike crash with ATV in Phuket

Greeley Pulitzer

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82 year old Frenchman killed in motorbike crash with ATV in Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A police officer examines the red ATV involved in a crash that killed an elderly Frenchman in Phuket

An elderly French man has died after an American woman lost control of her all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and crashed into his motorcycle in Chalong, southern Phuket. The woman was seriously injured. Police say the incident occurred on Soi Klum Yang in Chalong around 4pm on Thursday.

The crash involved a red ATV, and a black motorcycle ridden by the 82 year old Frenchman Robert Geoffray.

The woman, identified as 39 year old American Onome Alero Adeosun, suffered a broken right arm, leg and collarbone. Emergency workers found the elderly Frenchman lying unconscious on the road with serious head injuries. Medics performed CPR before sending both to Chalong Hospital, where the man was later pronounced dead.

His body was taken to Vachira Phuket Hospital for autopsy. The woman was transferred to Siriroj Hospital and is currently helping police with their investigation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Air Pollution

Salty tap water and dirty air – Bangkok’s environmental woes continue today

The Thaiger

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Salty tap water and dirty air – Bangkok’s environmental woes continue today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Government House officials are turning to salt-tolerant plants - khaosod.co.th

Brackish tap water, with increased salinity caused by seawater back-flowing into the Chao Phraya River, is threatening the gardens in and around the Government House compound. Government House officials are seeking assistance from the Agriculture Department.

Several small tree species – Lamduan, Chor Sumalee, Rachavadi, Nom Maew and Hom Muenlee – are more vulnerable to brackish tap water. The gardens are watered from a supply pumped in from the Chao Phraya.

It’s been noted tha the saline level was around 400 milligrams per litre, still within the 1,000 mg/litre standard, but some of the species were already intolerant to the rising salinity.

Officials are seeking advice from the Agriculture Department about long-term measures to replant with species which would be more tolerant to the rising salinity of the water – situation they acknowledge will need to be managed in the short to medium term.

Salty tap water and dirty air - Bangkok's environmental woes continue today | News by The Thaiger

SCREENGRAB: Air Visual

Meanwhile, air around the capital today continues to be universally poor to very poor with readings as high as 187 near Suvarnabhumi Airport. Light airs, dust problems from northern-easter provinces and hot continental air flowing across the capital, continue to haunt Bangkok. Even with many factories closed today, and traffic lighter than weekdays, Bangkok’s air has been recorded as the ninth worst city in the world for air pollution.

Right across the city the air quality readings are into the ‘unhealthy’ zone.

Chiang Mai, Lampang and Central Thailand are fairing no better – all with readings at least 3 times the Thai upper safe limit of 50 microns of 2.5micron particulate per cubic metre. The World Health Organisation sets its limit even lower at 25.

Pattaya has air quality readings today of 162, whilst even Phuket, in the south, is registering readings between 100 and 145 with reduced visibility today.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Salty tap water and dirty air - Bangkok's environmental woes continue today | News by The Thaiger

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Business

Three massive condo developments along Phuket’s up-market Layan Beach

Bill Barnett

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Three massive condo developments along Phuket’s up-market Layan Beach | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Northern end of Layan Beach - True-beachfront

by Bill Barnett – c9hotelworks.com

Two new condo developments are going ahead in the Layan Beach area of Phuket’s up-market west-coast beach strip. And there’s another one underway next to the Dream Beach Club at the northern end of the Layan beach strip. All in all, another 1,200+ keys added to the available rooms along the Bang Tao/Layan Beach area.

On the northern side of Bangtao Beach, next to Maan Tawan and nearby Banyan Tree Phuket is the upcoming Sunshine Beach development. With a plan for 771 hotel and residences units on 12.6 rai, the high-density project is targeting Mainland Chinese buyers with pricing points reportedly starting from 4 million baht. Construction is expected to start in June of this year and complete in 2022.

From our discussion with sales staff the developer has claimed they have reached an agreement with the government for beach fronting facilities in the National Park strip in front of the project.

While in Layan next to Lotus Gardens is the upcoming 400 unit Layan Green Park. Pricing points run from 2.5 million baht. Unit configurations will range from studio, to one, two and three bedrooms. Guaranteed returns of 10% for a period of 10 years are being promoted.

Phuket’s Layan area is seeing a surge in new real estate led projects and rising land values. At the same time as these two projects are underway, next to the Dream Beach is an oceanfront luxury project promoting sales of Grand Beach Villa and Ocean View Suites tagged as ‘N5’. The developer of the project is VIP Thailand who have another project in Rawai.

Based on our research the primary source market tragets of these three projects are mainland Chinese and Russian buyers. Local concerns in the Cherngtalay area over mounting traffic, water shortages and strain on municipal infrastructure are becoming issues.

Traffic in and around the central Cherngtalay shopping district is becoming increasingly clogged with little hope for respite other than improved traffic management.

SOURCE: C9Hotelworks.com

Three massive condo developments along Phuket's up-market Layan Beach | News by The Thaiger

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