Thailand News Today | Opposition to Thailand govt hosting former Sri Lanka president


Amnesty International is urging Thailand to free all political prisoners, drop all current allegations made against activists, and return bail rights to activists who get arrested.

The requests are detailed in a letter signed by 4,700 people addressed to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin. Amnesty International UK ran a campaign to gain support for the letter.

The letter was presented at the Justice Ministry and received by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Wanlop Nakbua.

Amnesty asks the Thai government to take urgent action on three requests…

  1. Release activists, drop all allegations made against activists, and grant bail to activists who get arrested.
  2. Ensure that activists who are detained have access to appropriate medical care.
  3. And inform officials to comply with Thailand’s international human rights obligations which include the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

Here’s a summary of what the Director of Amnesty International Thailand Piyanuch Kotsansaid…

“The Thai authorities have conducted widespread crackdowns on peaceful demonstrations and online discussions. Officials have implemented ambiguous laws on security, the monarchy, and computer crimes which are used as tools for suppression and have misinterpreted peaceful exercise of rights as a threat to security or order, or as offenses to the monarchy. subsequently, activists have been criminally prosecuted and could result in them serving a life sentence.”

“Protest leaders are often detained pending trial for months, affecting their right to education and right to work. The court has imposed stringent bail conditions. It is a serious limitation on freedom of movement, expression, and peaceful assembly. Activists released on bail have to stay in their house 24 hours a day and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet at all times.”

Amnesty also campaigned for the release of two female activists who were refused bail four times after being arrested and jailed under Section 112, or lèse majesté. After a 64 day hunger strike they were released on bail on August 4. However, the criminal charges filed against them have not been dropped.

Thailand recently extended the country’s “Emergency Decree” for a 19th time and banned public gatherings, citing that they spread Covid-19.

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The former president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is expected to travel from Singapore to Thailand today to seek temporary shelter. But an international relations expert suggests the Thai government should refrain from hosting an official ceremony to welcome the ex-leader as the issue is politically sensitive.

Rajapaksa was pressured to leave his position as president of Sri Lanka due to the country’s economic failure and cronyism. He and his family fled to the Maldives on July 13 after a violent protest inside and outside the president’s house on July 10.

The former leader continued to Singapore the day after and submitted his resignation by email to Sri Lanka’s president’s house. Singapore officials announced that Rajapaksa and his family could not claim political refugee status and could only stay in the country temporarily for 14 days until today, August 11.

His next destination is expected to be Thailand and reports say he lands in Bangkok today.

International relations expert, Chaiwat Kamchoo, explained that the Thai government is not able to refuse to welcome Sri Lanka’s former president because there was no judgment warrant or criminal status indicated.

However, Chaiwat said that this might cause dissatisfaction among the Sri Lankan people, so the government should play an impartial role and officially announce that Thailand has no special relationship with him.

The Spokesperson of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Thailand, Thanee Saengrat, reported that the Sri Lankan government requested Thailand to offer a temporary shelter for the former president. He insisted that Rajapaksa would not claim political refugee status in Thailand and would continue to his next destination after his visit.

According to reports, Rajapaksa holds a diplomatic passport allowing him to stay in Thailand for 90 days.

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The Covid isolation program in hotels, known as hospitals, a remnant of the pandemic times we all want to forget about, is set to be discontinued on September 1.

The Department of Health Service Support said there are currently 11 hospitals left of the original 79 hospitals operating in Thailand.

“Hospitals” were proposed by the Thai Hotels Association last year during Thailand’s third wave of Covid-19, when case numbers were high and hospitals were running out of beds.

For patients with no or mild symptoms who didn’t want to risk passing their infection on to their families or housemates, 14-day “hospital” stays were an attractive, more comfortable alternative than a trip to a hospital or “field hospital.”

The demand for “hospital” beds has now declined, partly because case numbers are lower, but mostly because more patients are opting for home isolation, said the doctor.

The National Health Security Office (NHSO) said Covid-19 patients should call the hotline 1330 to listen to current available treatment options.

Alternatively, Covid-19 patients can go to any hospital for an assessment. The doctor will decide whether the patient should receive hospital treatment or outpatient treatment.

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An upcoming beach festival in Phuket is aiming to boost Phuket’s surf tourism amidst Thailand’s ongoing monsoon season.

According to Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, not many tourists visit the island province during monsoon season, but it’s the best season for surfing,

A post on Phuket Beach Festival’s Facebook page shows a video about the festival coming up on August 23-28. The video shows young, fit surfers ripping through the waves of Phuket’s Kata Beach, where the festival is held. The festival will feature surfing competitions, beach lifestyle FLEA Markets, concerts from Thai artists, and more. The concerts will be livestreamed on the event’s Facebook page.

According to another post from the event’s page, the competitions include prize money of about 400,000 baht.

Minister Pipat said the project aims to boost sports tourism with cooperation between the government and private sectors in Phuket.

Pipat noted that due to strong waves, the ministry is taking safety seriously. he said…

“So we have cooperated with international units such as International Life Saving and International Surfing Association to provide practice for surfing trainers.”

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Taking inspiration from the 2018 cave rescue in the northern province of Chiang Rai, one billion baht will be invested in a new attraction and exhibition called The Caventure. A soft opening is expected in October next year.

The 17-day rescue in 2018, or the Tham Luang cave rescue, at Tham Luang Nang Non Cave in Chiang Rai, was an extraordinarily dangerous mission that had the globe captivated. It was a massive operation and cooperation was needed from several Thai and international departments to save a football coach and 12 youngsters from the Wild Boar football team.

International divers, rescue workers, soldiers, police officers, and many other specialists joined the mission drawing worldwide public attention. The incident was later highlighted in books, documentaries, and finally, in Ron Howard’s movie Thirteen Lives.

Now, the event agency, Index Creative Village, wants to create the nail-biting misadventure again with a permanent exhibition and an attraction called The Caventure.

Construction on the Caventure starts work this month on a 40,000-square-metre area in the Mae Sai district of the Chiang Rai province. The spot is about one kilometer away from the original rescue site.

Inside, The Caventure will have a permanent exhibition telling the stories of the Wild Boar football team and the rescue process. The highlight will be the Tham Luang Nang Non, simulation room. The real rescue equipment and possessions of the coach and children, like the clothes they wore and the bicycles they rode to the cave, will be exhibited in this room.

The Caventure will also offer visitors the immersive experience of being in a cave, and the project will provide a balloon touring service for visitors who want to see a bird’s eye view of the cave.

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