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Facial recognition security push in Thailand’s South

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Facial recognition security push in Thailand’s South | The Thaiger
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Concerns are being raised over the move to force all mobile phone users in Thailand’s South to submit their photos for facial-recognition identification. The edict says those who fail to do so by October 31 will have their mobile phone service blocked.

The Cross Cultural Foundation says the order given to Thailand’s telecom operators was ‘racial profiling’.

“The use of facial-recognition technology risks violating people’s privacy and freedom. It also mean users could be discriminated against. Racial profiling may lead to the arrest and prosecution of the innocent.”

The predominantly Muslim provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces, and four border districts of Songkhla, namely Chana, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi and Thepha, are the areas covered under the new security arrangements. These areas have been hit by insurgency-related violence that has claimed thousands of lives over the past 15 years, including security officials and civilians.

In the face of the violence, the region is under an emergency decree with a heavy military presence and limitations on people’s basic rights.

Cross Cultural Foundation director, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, says the NBTC should publicly explain why cellphone users’ photos must now be collected and what assurances service providers would offer that images would not be leaked to unauthorised persons.

“We are worried that these pictures may be abused,” Pornpen said.

She said that in her experience, a suspected insurgent arrested for possessing a single gun could easily be charged with 10 more offences, often without grounds.

“What charges will a person face if their SIM card happens to be found at a crime scene?” she asked.

Korreeyor Manuchae, an independent lawyer and a Yala resident, said many locals did not trust state officials and were thus wary of the requirement to submit their pictures.

“We don’t oppose the move. But we are worried about it,” she said. She added that family members of suspects were often coerced into providing DNA samples by security agencies.

National Human Rights Commission member Angkhana Neelapaijit is among those who received a surprise short text on her cellphone from ISOC4, telling her to re-register her SIM card with her picture on June 21.

ISOC4 is associated with the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, the agency tasked with security matters in the deep South.

Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the Forward Command of the ISOC4, said the ISOC had simply helped raise awareness of the timeframe for people to submit their photos.

“But we have not sent any short text messages to all cellphone users. We don’t know their numbers,” he said. Earlier, he complained of how SIM cards sold online were often used in bomb attacks in the deep South.

Meanwhile, PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging residents of the deep South to comply with the new rule.

“Just a photo is needed to prove your identity. It’s not a violation of rights.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Insurgency

2 insurgents killed, 4 ranger injured in Songkhla clash

The Thaiger

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2 insurgents killed, 4 ranger injured in Songkhla clash | The Thaiger
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Rangers have shot and killed 2 suspected insurgents in the latest clashes in Thailand’s Deep South, this time in Songkhla’s Chana and Thepha district last night. Police and soldiers headed to the area after receiving reports that 4 insurgents were in the ares and travelling on 2 motorcycles. The suspects dispersed as the police and soldiers arrived. 3 separate clashes followed.

2 other suspected insurgents were killed in the first 2 clashes which occurred in Chana and Thepha districts. The 3 clashes happened in 3 different parts of the area.

In the 3rd of the clashes a 39 year old suspected insurgent was killed. 4 local rangers were also injured in that attack.

The man was suspected of being involved in a bombing out the front of the Pa Bon School in Khok Pho district, Pattani back in January, 2013. He was also a suspect of being involved in a bomb explosion on a road in Sabayoi district on February 24, earlier this year, where 10 people were injured.

The authorities combed the area and found the body of another suspect at a beach near the Krong Itam village in Koh Saba. believed to have died in the clashes.

He is believed to be Che Arong Baheng, an alleged insurgent operating in the Na Thawi district.

Clashes between religious insurgents and local Thais have been ongoing for 2 decades. More than 7,000 people, mostly civilians, are thought to have died in the territorial war. It originated in 1948 as an ethnic and religious separatist insurgency in a part of the Malay Patani Region, then comprising the 3 southernmost provinces of Thailand and parts of a 4th, but has become more complex and violent since the early 2000s where the violence has become entwined with activities from drug cartels, oil smuggling networks and Muslim insurgents.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Southern Thailand insurgents ambush police vehicle

Caitlin Ashworth

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Southern Thailand insurgents ambush police vehicle | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sanook

A group of insurgents allegedly shot up a police vehicle while it was travelling in the southern province Narathiwat, which borders Malaysia. 50 bullet casings were found on the ground after the ambush. Luckily, the 5 police officers, including the province’s deputy police chief, were not injured.

The police vehicle was equipped with bullet proof windows and the body of the truck was plated with armor. None of the bullets were able to penetrate the vehicle. The police sped away to a nearby paramilitary ranger post.

Police say around 10 insurgents hid in the bushes along the road and opened fire when the police vehicle drove by. After the ambush, officers were dispatched to the site. They found more than 50 bullet casings from various firearms.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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Crime

4 suspected insurgents shot dead in Pattani

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4 suspected insurgents shot dead in Pattani | The Thaiger
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Further to a story published yesterday by The Thaiger, a total of 4 suspected insurgents are now reported to have been shot dead in separate firefights in the southern Pattani province on Friday evening and Saturday morning, as security forces close in on a fifth suspect. The first clash followed an earlier gunfight in which 3 soldiers were wounded while security forces were hunting for the perpetrators of a bombing that killed a ranger last Thursday. 2 gunmen were shot dead and their weapons seized in Yarang district yesterday morning as officers resumed operations to arrest the suspects.

A spokesman for the Region 4 Forward Command of the Internal Security Operations Command report that earlier in the day, local residents were evacuated to a safe area and asked to follow orders from authorities as the suspects were heavily armed. The deputy director of the Region 4 Forward Command then went to Yarang district to monitor the situation as gunfire continued.

The spokesman identified the men shot dead on Friday as Masukee Sarumor, believed to be the head of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil insurgent movement, who was already wanted on 2 arrest warrants in security-related cases, and Anwar Kolae, an operational member who was also wanted in a security-related case.

The identities and criminal records of the 2 men shot on Saturday are still being verified.

Thailand’s southernmost provinces, along the border with Malaysia, are home to a decades old separatist insurgency

4 suspected insurgents shot dead in Pattani | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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