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Alleged ‘sex cult’ yoga retreat on Koh Phangan operating again

Thaiger

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PHOTO: Narcis Tarcau, aka. Swami Vivekananda Saraswati – South China Morning Post

The world’s “biggest tantric yoga school” has reopened on Koh Phangan with the accused leader back in charge amid accusations that management suppressed an investigation into the alleged abuse.

The centre closed last September after 14 women alleged rape and sexual assault and made official complaints. At the time the Agama centre promised a through internal investigation into the allegations.

Read The Thaiger’s story about the raids last year HERE.

Agama Yoga claimed at the time that they had shut down for “restructuring after the allegations from previous students became public in September, 2018. They accused the school of “facilitating rape, sexual assault and misogynist teachings”.

The accusations were mainly leveled at the leader, a Romanian called Narcis Tarcau, who had gone under the name of Swami Vivekananda Saraswati for 15 years. Allegations were also made at the time against several of the centre’s teaching staff.

The yoga school remains stripped of its Yoga Alliance certification, according to an article in The Guardian.

Sixteen former pupils and staff accused the centre of operating a defacto “sex cult” and claimed that it had been operating as such for quite some time. Two formal accusations of rape were made against Tarcau but a three-month statute of limitations on rape cases in Thailand meant they could not be investigated by authorities on Koh Phangan.

An article in South China Morning Post also says that Tarcau was accused of using his influence to promote “dangerous” health theories, which allegedly contributed to at least two women not seeking treatment for cancer with “devastating consequences”.

Tarcau fled Thailand when several of the victims went public, including several sending reports of the allegations to The Thaiger.

At the time the school apologised for any harm a teacher may have caused, promised a full internal investigation and said that they were “dedicated to change”. The centre claimed they were closing down and restructuring.

Now UK media, The Guardian, claims that Tarcau is back on Koh Phangan and has reopened the Agama centre. The article says that he is back teaching female students.

The Agama website said last month that he was listed as the teacher leading a New Year retreat as well as other yoga workshops. But all teachers’ names have now been removed from the website.

The website also promotes courses in other ‘alternative’ workshops including “Kundalini, Bhakti, Nidra, and Raja Yoga(s), The Tibetan Book of The Dead, Astrology, Psychotherapy, Rebirthing, Metaphysics, and much more”.

The website makes no mention of the complaints made against the ‘Swami’, last year’s closure, the allegations against the centre or changes made to avoid further abuses.

The article also claims that several other teachers who were also accused of misconduct, rape, assault, or were accused of being part of attempts to cover up the allegation, are now back teaching at the school.

In one allegation, Ana Smith, the mother of a former Agama pupil, Deborah Topp, claims that in 2017 Tarcau convinced her daughter not to return to Australia for breast cancer treatment and instead follow his natural remedies. These ‘remedies’ included eating only brown rice and drinking her own urine and menstrual blood, which she said he allegedly claimed to have used in the past to “successfully cure cancer”.

The mother said that Deborah eventually returned to Australia three months mater after the lump had grown rapidly. Despite a mastectomy, Ana says it was “too late” as the cancer had spread and “her chances of survival had long expired”.

Deborah Topp died in December 2017.

Koh Phangan police colonel Sathit Kongniam has confirmed to The Guardian they were “still monitoring” Agama, and made regular visits to the school. He also said that the police believed that Tarcau was no longer at the school.

Another story of the allegations against Narcis Tarcau, aka. Swami Vivekananda Saraswati HERE.

Alleged ‘sex cult’ yoga retreat on Koh Phangan operating again | News by Thaiger

SOURCES: South China Morning Post, The Guardian

 

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Koh Samui

Samui tourism official calls for inter-provincial travel ban to flatten the curve prior to July re-opening

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Yavor Punchev for Unsplash

The president of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui says the island is still pinning its hopes on a July 1 re-opening for vaccinated foreign tourists. Ratchaporn Poolsawadee remains optimistic, despite Thailand now battling a third wave of Covid-19, with Samui reporting 50 infections.

He says vaccines are being rolled out out on Samui, although a number of doses have had to be diverted to Covid hotspots elsewhere in the country. Around 30%, or 25,000 people, have already received 2 doses of the vaccine, with very few side-effects reported. However, the pace may slow as a result of some of Samui’s allocation now being sent to other provinces, in an attempt to curb the spread there. Ratchaporn says that once it receives a further supply of vaccine doses, the island has the capacity to administer 25,000 shots over 5 days, at 4 vaccination centres.

“We firmly believe that the vaccination process will be completed by June which will be in time for the re-opening plan.”

Until then, officials in the southern province of Surat Thani and on Samui itself, are strengthening disease prevention measures and travel restrictions. Ratchaporn is calling on the government to impose an inter-provincial travel ban to halt the spread of the virus. He says doing so would be more effective than closing businesses for 14 days, with the possibility of endless extensions.

The Bangkok Post reports that tourism operators are preparing tour programmes for the Samui Sealed Routes, whereby tourists would travel to sealed beach locations at Tham Rang in Angthong National Marine Park, as well as partaking in wellness activities such as yoga, meditation and spa treatments.

Before embarking on a “sealed tour” however, vaccinated foreign tourists would have to remain in their hotel rooms on the day they arrive. On day 2, they would be required to take a Covid test and, if negative, would be allowed leave the room and use other hotel facilities. From day 4, they would be allowed leave the hotel, with another Covid test on day 7. If the result is negative, tourists can travel around the island as well as elsewhere in the country.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

All foreigners eligible for Covid-19 vaccine under Thailand’s vaccination plan, eventually

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Stock photo by Vincent Vega on Flickr

All expats living in Thailand are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, according to deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Natapanu Nopakun. He says Thailand plans to roll out a “massive vaccination plan” to vaccinate all people who are living in Thailand, including foreign residents.

“All people residing in Thailand, regardless of nationality, are eligible to receive the vaccine under the plan.”

He made the announcement during the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing today. Natapanu says more information on the vaccination plan for foreigners residing in Thailand will be released at a later date.

Health officials in Phuket and Koh Samui, tourist destinations that have been said to be of “economic significance,” have already been rolling out mass vaccination campaigns in an effort to reach herd immunity and reopen the islands to foreign tourists by July. But the vast majority of foreigners in the country remain confused about exactly how they can go about registering, or when they can expect to be included in Thailand’s vaccine roll out.

An expat who works as an English teacher at a school in Koh Samui says he received both doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine this month. He says the school helped with the registration process and both doses of Covid-19 vaccine were free.

 

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Expats

International Living magazine ranks Koh Samui among 15 best islands to retire

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Thailand’s popular Gulf island of Koh Samui is basking in glory as it is listed as one of the best islands to retire by International Living magazine. The island is ranked number 10 out of 15 islands listed by the magazine, and is said to be affordable for retirees. Peace, privacy, a simpler way of life and strong communities are also listed as some of its benefits.

The magazine detailed life on Koh Samui, pointing out the island’s world-class beaches…

“LYING ABOUT 425 MILES SOUTH OF THE COUNTRY’S CAPITAL, BANGKOK, KOH SAMUI HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST COVETED EXPAT DESTINATIONS IN THAILAND. ALTHOUGH ONLY 13 MILES WIDE AND OVER 15 MILES LONG, THE ISLAND IS THAILAND’S SECOND LARGEST ISLAND AFTER PHUKET.

KOH SAMUI BOASTS WORLD-CLASS BEACHES TUCKED AWAY IN SECLUDED BAYS…EXPANSIVE INLAND JUNGLES TEEMING WITH EXOTIC BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES, AND MONKEYS…MAGNIFICENT CASCADING WATERFALLS AND INLAND NATURAL POOLS…AND AN ALMOST COUNTLESS CHOICE OF GREAT SPOTS TO SIT DOWN, RELAX, AND WATCH THE SPECTACULAR SUNSETS OVER THE GULF OF THAILAND.

SAMUI, ONE OF AN ARCHIPELAGO OF 80 SMALLER ISLANDS, HAS A WARM AND MOSTLY CRYSTAL-CLEAR SEA WITH LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR KAYAKING, SAILING, AND BOATING. IT IS ALSO FAST BECOMING A GOLFER’S PARADISE.

THE ISLAND MAKES A GREAT DESTINATION FOR ANYONE LOOKING FOR A DREAM RETIREMENT BY THE SEA. YOU CAN LIVE WELL HERE ON A BUDGET OF US$2,000-2,500 A MONTH.”

Apart from the necessary documents needed, you can renew your retirement visa yearly without needing to go on a visa run or outside of the country, making the option convenient for those who may be unfit for sucFor information regarding a retirement visa, you can visit or contact a Thai embassy or consulate. Or a properly qualified visa agent.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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