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Phuket Gazette: Rebels release UN peacekeepers; UN calls on Israel to release prisoners; Inmates escape

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Phuket Gazette: Rebels release UN peacekeepers; UN calls on Israel to release prisoners; Inmates escape | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Rebels release peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur
PHUKET (news Wires): More than 50 international peacekeepers and other personnel who were blockaded by rebels in northwestern Darfur on Sunday have been allowed to leave, officials at the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) confirmed yesterday.

The 55-person peacekeeping contingent was blocked by more than 100 armed men belonging to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) while conducting a long-range patrol in the village of Shegeg Tova in Darfur, a region in western Sudan, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from its team site in Umm Baru.

Rebels initially accused the peacekeeping patrol of cooperating with Sudanese security services, but most of them were allowed to leave on Monday after negotiations. A Yemeni police advisor and two Sudanese language assistants were being held until yesterday, when rebels agreed to release them without any conditions.

“Our officers and their troops demonstrated true resolve, courage and compassion in facing down a large contingent of armed JEM rebels who were holding three UNAMID personnel,” said Ibrahim Gambari, head of UNAMID. “Our troops held their ground; they called in reinforcements and they refused to leave the area without all personnel back on the patrol, including the Yemeni police advisor and two Sudanese language assistants. This afternoon everyone has returned, without injury and without any conditionality.”

Gambari condemned the blockage of the peacekeeping patrol, which consisted of 50 Senegalese troops in addition to three police advisors and two language assistants. “Our peacekeepers criss-cross Darfur every day to help bring security to civilians who continue to suffer the effects of conflict. We have a mandate to execute in all parts of Darfur,” he said, adding that any hostile act against a UN peacekeeper is a violation of international humanitarian law and a possible war crime.

More than 23,000 troops, military observers and police officers and nearly 4,500 civilians serve with UNAMID, which assumed peacekeeping duties from an earlier African Union mission at the start of 2008. A total of 35 UNAMID blue helmets have been killed in the line of duty while serving in Darfur.

The UNAMID force is tasked with protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process and help ensuring the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance across Darfur, an arid region on Sudan’s western flank. Fighting and large-scale displacement has convulsed the region since 2003 when rebels took up arms against the Government, whose military forces responded with the support of allied militiamen.

UN calls on Israel to release Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike
PHUKET (news Wires): The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk urged the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan who is being held without charges.

Adnan, a leader in the Islamic Jihad, was detained in December 2011 near the northern West Bank city of Jenin and has been held since without charges. An Israeli military court previously sentenced the 33-year-old to four months in administrative detention and upheld his detention order after rejecting an appeal.

Yesterday marked the 66th day of Adnan’s hunger strike, which he began a day after his arrest on December 17. “I am informed that Mr. Adnan’s health has already suffered irreparable damage, he is in jeopardy of dying at any moment,” Falk said at the end of a 10-day fact-finding mission to the region. “I reiterate my call on the Government of Israel to uphold Mr. Adnan’s rights, taking full account of the extreme urgency of the situation.”

According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 4,400 Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, including approximately 300 Palestinians who are detained without charges under the label of so-called administrative detention. “I have requested information regarding each of these persons, and I intend to follow up on each case and address this matter in my forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council,” Falk said.

Falk’s call to free Adnan immediately comes amid media reports that Israel may be close to releasing him. One of Adnan’s lawyer was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera that Israel has agreed to free him, but gave no details. It came hours before the supreme court is to hear an urgent appeal for his release.

Adnan said he will continue the hunger strike, the longest ever in the history of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, until his release.

30 inmates escape after dozens die in Mexican prison riot
PHUKET (news Wires): Dozens of prisoners were reported missing on Monday after a riot broke out at a prison in northern Mexico a day earlier, killing 44 people, officials said.

The riot broke out at around 2am local time on Sunday after a discussion between two inmates, purportedly between two rival members of the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels, escalated at the prison in Apodaca, a city northeast of the metropolitan area of Monterrey in Nuevo León state.

Nuevo León Public Security spokesman Jorge Domene Zembrano said the riot was likely triggered as a distraction, as 30 inmates were later reported missing, 25 of them under federal jurisdiction. Authorities have announced a 10 million pesos (US$786,000) reward for information leading to their arrests.

Following the incident on Sunday, seventeen prison guards, as well as prison chief Gilberto Ceseña, were all arrested and are currently being investigated. Zembrano also questioned how prison cells were open at such hours of the morning, which ultimately led to the deadly riot.

Nuevo León state government officials have requested aid from National Police forces and the National Defense Ministry for security operations at the prison, which has been overpopulated for several years. Following the incident, family members of inmates at the prison clashed with guards after failing to get clear answers from authorities. A protest was later organized which blocked a nearby highway.

Personnel from the State Human Rights Commission are also investigating the incident as the riot is the deadliest in Nuevo León’s history.

Prison outbreaks and prison riots occur frequently in Mexico. In early January, 31 inmates were killed when two groups of inmates clashed at a penitentiary in the municipality of Altamira, which is located at the southern tip of the state of Tamaulipas and on the Gulf of Mexico. Local authorities said the inmates used self-made weapons during the fight.

And in mid-October 2011, a total of 20 inmates were killed when two inmates began fighting at a prison in the city of Matamoros, located in the state of Tamaulipas near the U.S. border. Other inmates joined the fight.

Mexico has been struggling to cope with an influx of criminals as President Felipe Calderón continues with his campaign against organized crime and drug cartels. According to official figures, at least 12,903 people died as a result of drug-related violence between January and September 2011, although figures for the entire year are not yet available. This will likely bring the total figure for 2011 to more than 17,000, the highest annual number yet.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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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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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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Crime

Thai women in Japan drug bust

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai women in Japan drug bust | The Thaiger

Japanese Police and Customs Officials at Fukuoka Airport reported the arrest of seven Thai women who smuggled in drugs weighing more than a kilogram into Japan. The women separated the drugs into tiny bags and hid them in random places on their bodies.

The women purchased tour tickets and tried to blend in as Thai tourists. When caught with the evidence, they admitted smuggling the drugs for foreigners living in Japan, alleging that they received orders from tourists to bring in the drugs.

Another recent arrest Thai women smuggling cocaine has prompted Japanese officials to consider tightening entry requirements for Thai tourists to protect against drug smuggling.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

The Thaiger

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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