Archive for May, 2021

Myanmar Military Raids Myanmar Pawn Shop Because Owner Is Part of Opposition

May 31, 2021

In Mandalay’s Aung Pinlae ward, armed forces raided the pawnshop of a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), taking jewelry and cash worth more than 30 million kyats (about 18 200 dollars), she said.

May Thu, 44, was issued an arrest warrant by the regime in April 2021 for allegedly violating Section 505a of the Penal Code.

May Thu was not present when 20 plainclothes soldiers showed up at her shop, where she also lives. Instead, they detained her 22-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, who were released the next morning.

As a pawn shop, we keep the items pawned to us in individual bags with receipts and names on them.
“They took over 200 items, but then released the children,” May Thu, who has been hiding, told the press.

Kyat Tu Yway, who is a well-known community member in Aung Pin Lae ward, was also arrested with May Thu’s children, and he has not been released.

May Thu’s son said the pair were taken to the Lay Myat Nar pagoda compound and interrogated separately.

In turn, they coaxed and threatened them to provide information.
“They asked me how I was related to her,” he replied.

They were handcuffed, put into prisoner transport vehicles, and told they would be taken to an interrogation center after the interrogation ended at midnight, he added.

He and his sister were released in the morning.

Due to her involvement in the Civil Disobedience Movement and anti-regime protests in Mandalay, May Thu has been hiding from the police.

The military council could not be reached for comment on the detention and interrogation of a child and the theft of items from the shop.

By May 29, 2021, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) reported that at least 837 civilians had been killed and 4,370 detained since the coup on February 1, 2021.

It claims that the number of deaths is around 300, dismissing the AAPP’s tally as “inflated.”

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SEGA May Have Accidentally Revealed New Name For Sonic Game

May 31, 2021

SEGA may have accidentally revealed the name of its new Sonic game.
SEGA gave Sonic’s fans a sneak peek at Sonic’s next adventure on May 26th, 2021. In keeping with the company’s reputation for obscurity, SEGA gave the game a release date of 2022 as the only information they offered. Recent press releases, however, accidentally reveal the game’s name as Sonic Rangers.
SEGA listed some of Sonic Central’s highlights in its press release. SEGA’s new project is included on this list, which is unfortunate:
There is news on Sonic Colors: Ultimate and Sonic Rangers, as well as Sonic Prime and mobile news.
What exactly is Sonic Rangers? According to Twitter user PTKickass, it’s the title of SEGA’s next big Sonic game.
The title “Sonic Rangers” may still be a placeholder. Still, the game’s logo features a stylized “R,” which makes the title more likely. Resetara reports that the game will also be open-world.
While SEGA has accidentally referred to its new game as Sonic Rangers, the title has not been officially announced. SEGA told Eurogamer that the mention was from an “older version” of the press release, which was incorrectly shared.
As a result, its name could still change. For now, it’s best to take the rest of the Sonic rumors with a grain of salt.

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Thai Bits: Another COVID-19 Visa Extension, Expats in Thailand Must Register Soon For COVID-19 Vaccinations

May 31, 2021

Another COVID-19 Visa Extension

As of July 29, 2021, the deadline for applying for a 60-day “Covid” visa extension has been extended until late September. The extensions are intended for foreigners unable to leave Thailand and return home due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. The Thai Immigration Bureau has extended the application deadline several times, usually at the last minute. Previously, the deadline was May 29, 2021.
Due to the global situation of Covid-19 and limited international flights, the 60-day visa extension program was introduced late last year to allow foreigners to stay in Thailand.
It is possible to grant the extension if:
Foreigners cannot return to their home countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Return flights are not available.
There is a letter from the foreigner’s embassy requesting a temporary stay.

Expats In Thailand Should Register ASAP For Vaccinations

All foreign nationals living in Thailand should register for vaccination ahead of next month’s national rollout. It was confirmed by Natapanu Nopakun from the Foreign Ministry, who you may remember from the daily English-language briefings from the Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)
“Thais and foreign nationals alike are encouraged to register for vaccination through designated channels if they wish to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.”
Bangkok Post reports that various agencies have been tasked with managing the registration of foreigners in Thailand. Natapanu advises foreigners to contact the relevant agency to get inoculated.
“The Foreign Ministry coordinates vaccinations for diplomats, members of international organizations, and foreign media. The Ministries of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation are responsible for foreign students. Social Security Offices provide benefits to migrant workers from neighboring countries. It is advised that all foreign nationals, including spouses of Thai citizens, retirees, investors, and all other foreign nationals, contact the hospital with their health records or register on-site at designated vaccination sites. Organizations and businesses can work with the Ministry of Public Health to arrange vaccination schedules for their employees, regardless of their nationality.
Natapanu says additional doses are being sought from other manufacturers in addition to Sinovac and AstraZeneca. The first batch of locally manufactured AstraZeneca doses will be available next month, and the government is aiming to inoculate 70% of the population by the end of the year.
According to Natapanu, the private sector is allowed to import its own vaccine supplies, but it must do so through the Government Pharmaceutical Organization.
Covid-19 vaccines are not sold directly to private companies since they are only approved for emergency use. This option allows people to choose their preferred vaccine, even if it differs from those provided by the government. WHO or Thailand’s FDA cannot approve these vaccines, nor can Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health.
The Chulabhorn Research Academy confirmed in a surprise move last week that it would import supplies of another Chinese vaccine, Sinopharm, in order to boost the government’s rollout. The vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on May 28, 2021.
In addition to Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna, Sinopharm is the fifth vaccine approved for emergency use. To date, however, it has not been confirmed when supplies of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines or the Moderna vaccines will be available.

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Patricia Hernandez Will Be The New Editor-in-Chief of Kotaku in June 2021

May 30, 2021

The Washington Post reports that Patricia Hernandez will be the new editor in chief of Kotaku.

Since February 5, 2021, when former EIC Stephen Totilo moved on to a new position at Axios, the position has been vacant.

Hernandez will begin her new role on June 2, 2021.

On Twitter, she announced that she would be leaving her role as Polygon culture editor.

Despite my last day at Polygon, I’d like to thank [Chris Plante] and [Chelsea Stark] for their commitment to fostering a strong culture within the company, said Hernandez.

“Everyone at the site is so aggressively kind. I could talk shop about VISION on my next adventure, but deep down, I hope that sense of humanity will follow me.”

Kotaku hired her as a full-time staff writer in 2012, and she eventually was promoted to deputy editor.

She left Polygon in 2018 to join The Verge as culture editor and then joined The Verge in 2019.

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The Myanmar Military Burns Three Houses In Village

May 30, 2021

During recent raids on three villages in Magwe Region, regime forces killed three people and set houses on fire at random.

After military trucks passing through the township were struck by explosives the same day, villagers were subjected to a crackdown.

Among the victims was Saw Min Hlaing Oo, a 33-year-old primary school teacher taking part in the nationwide general strike against the coup regime; he was shot in the waist and the thigh. Other casualties included two men aged 50 and 33, but their names were not known at the time of reporting.

The local resident of Gangaw said he did not know why the houses-three in total-were destroyed.

“The soldiers opened fire on the villages from a road. Several bullets hit my village,” a local man told Myanmar Now, asking not to mention the names of the targeted villages for fear of reprisals. “Some of the shooting victims were fleeing when bullets passed just over their heads. All the villagers fled.”

While fleeing the regime forces’ attack, a woman in her 70s slipped down a hillside and broke one of her legs as she was shot in the arm, the local added.

Around 5:30 pm, after the soldiers had left, villagers returned to their homes.

Residents of Kani and Yinmabin townships in the southern Sagaing Region, which borders the Magwe Region, have been resisting the junta rule with homemade guns and explosives since April.

The military retaliated by raiding several villages in those areas to crush the locals’ armed resistance, forcing more than 15,000 residents to flee to the forests to hide or seek refuge in other towns.

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The Chulabhron Royal Academy Will Be The Thai Organization in Charge Of The COVID-19 Vaccines In Thailand

May 30, 2021

The Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA) was recently granted the power to act unilaterally to secure vaccines and to act in the public’s interest on issues concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an announcement in the Royal Gazette.
Chulabhorn Institute and Royal Academy are scientific research institutes named after and headed by HRH Princess Chulabhorn.
The ambiguously worded announcement could mean that the institute will no longer be bound by government regulations to bring in vaccines.
Furthermore, the announcement gives the organizations sweeping powers to carry out actions that will help the public interest as the third wave of the pandemic continues to wreak havoc across Thailand.
In one analysis, the order was viewed as a rebuke against the government of Prayut.
To stem the tide of Covid-19, the government consistently fails to implement public health measures.
In particular, the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration failed to halt travel and lock down the country during the Songkran Festival (this year, it was a four-day holiday), which contributed to the spread of the pandemic.
Government officials and public health minister Anuthin Charnvirakul also failed to act quickly to obtain vaccines, delaying the acquisition of vaccines through the winter months until the pandemic’s third wave was already underway.

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Thai Health Officials Don’t Like Name For New COVID-19 Variant

May 29, 2021

Reports indicating the existence of a new coronavirus strain from Thailand have been disputed by Thai health authorities.

109 cases of a new form of coronavirus, coded C.36.3, have been reported in England by Public Health England (PHE), an agency within the Department of Health and Social Care.

According to the PHE report, cases who traveled from Egypt were first detected in Thailand with the C.36.3 variant.

The PHE did not name the variant, but the UK media quickly referred to it as the Thai variant. Thai authorities immediately rejected the term as wrong.

According to Dr. Udom Kachindhorn, adviser to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), the new strain has not been detected among local  transmissions in Thailand.

He said UK authorities should alert Thai officials so they can conduct an investigation before disseminating such information.

According to Dr. Udom, the UK has not sent a sample of the variant to Thai authorities, adding that more than one laboratory must verify the variant.

The details remain unclear as PHE continues to investigate the matter and carry out laboratory tests of the new variant, one of many that PHE has reported.

According to the report, this variant has not yet been proven to cause more serious disease or reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, Supakit Sirilak, said his agency is looking into the PHE report, noting that he is opposed to the term Thai variant.

According to Dr. Supakit, a preliminary investigation revealed that the new strain was brought into Thailand by Egyptian travellers who had been quarantined after arriving.

Egypt was the origin in principle. Therefore, it could not be called the Thai variant. He said it should be called the Egypt variant.

According to Dr. Supakit, an Egyptian man, 33, tested positive for the  coronavirus while he was under quarantine for 14 days in Thailand.

He noted that a sample from the man was sent to Chulalongkorn University’s laboratory for identification on Jan 31st, 2021, which revealed the man was infected with a variant of B.1.1.1.

Dr. Supakit said it was later changed to C.36.3 under a new recording system.

On Jan 2nd, 2021, Japan identified a concerning variant from a Brazilian national, but the strain was never branded  as the Japanese variant.

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Rohingya Refugees From Myanmar and Other Countries Stuck On Isolated Island

May 29, 2021

Dilara dreamed of a new life in Malaysia as she set off from the coast of Bangladesh.

She and hundreds of others were rescued after spending days floating at sea after being turned away at the border.

However, they were not returned to the mainland or their families.

The group was abandoned on an island made of silt in the middle of the Bay of Bengal by their rescuers, with no hope of escaping.

“I don’t know how long I will stay here. I have no way out,” the unmarried young woman, who fears leaving her room in the dark, told the press.

“I will grow old and die here alone.”

As part of a planned 100,000 Rohingya refugee settlement, Dilara arrived on Bhasan Char, a piece of land measuring 40 square kilometers (15 square miles) in size which had previously served as a stop-off point for fishermen.

The Bangladeshi authorities have hailed it as a solution to the overcrowded refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, which are home to almost a million Rohingya refugees who arrived recently. Myanmar’s army launched a military offensive in 2017, which the UN later called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”. Earlier violence had driven some people away.

Authorities say, however, that the Rohingya refugee camps have become crime hotspots.

Despite this, the press spoke by phone to refugees on the small island of mud. They describe a place where there is no work, few facilities and little hope of a better future.

It is said that those who attempt to flee are caught and beaten, and refugees are turning on one another as frustration rises. Moreover, they fear that one big storm could wash them away as they are just 2m (6ft) above sea level.

The press was granted access to the island last year, but it is hard to say what is going on. There has been no free access for journalists, aid agencies, or human rights groups to Bhasan Char, which is 60km (37.5 miles) from the mainland.

To protect their identities, the names of a few residents have been changed.

When Halima and her family arrived in December, heavily pregnant, Halima wondered how they would survive.

“It was such a desolate place. Apart from us, nobody lived here.”

The next day, she went into labor without being able to find a doctor or nurse.

“I had experienced childbirth before, but this time it was the worst. I can’t tell you how painful it was.”

Her husband, Enayet, rushed to find a Rohingya woman living in the same block who was trained as a midwife.

Halima says, “God helped me.”. Fathima was her daughter.

Rohingya face a new threat on a remote island
‘The bodies were thrown from the boat in the night’
The Rohingya crisis: What you need to know
Enayet had promised them a new life on the island without telling his family.

“They [Bangladeshi officials] promised us a plot of land for each family, cows, buffaloes, and loans for businesses,” he told the press.

Halima says that despite having access to running water, bunk beds, a gas stove, and a shared toilet in her accommodation, the reality has been quite different.

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The Myanmar Military Have Arrested An American Journalist

May 29, 2021

As Danny Fenster was about to leave on an international flight for Bangkok when he was detained at the airport, Frontier magazine reports he was imprisoned in Insein prison.

Fenster, who hails from the Detroit area in the United States, previously worked for Myanmar Now, another independent news source. The journalist is the fourth foreigner detained since the military seized power in a coup on February 1st, 2021.

After being arrested, freelancers Robert Bociaga, from Poland, and Yuki Kitazumi, from Japan, were deported. Nathan Maung, a US citizen who was arrested during a raid on his Kamayut Media office, as well as fact freelancers Robert Bociaga, from Poland, and Yuki Kitazumi, from Japan, were all deported following their arrests. Nathan Maung, a US citizen who was arrested in a raid on his Kamayut Media office, has been charged with spreading “fake news” and appeared in court earlier this month.

Danny has been detained since this morning and Frontier has not been able to contact him since then, Frontier said in a tweet on Monday night. We are concerned about his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. The priority right now is to ensure that he is safe and to provide him with any assistance he may need.

The military has used increasingly brutal tactics against those protesting against the coup, including cracking down on reporting and online communication. About 80 journalists have been detained, roughly half of whom are still in custody awaiting charges or a “fake news”
Earlier this month, he was charged and appeared in court.

The restriction of a foreign journalist’s freedom of movement is the latest grave threat to press freedom in Myanmar, Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, said in a statement.

Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand also condemned the arrest and praised Frontier and Myanmar Now for their courageous reporting.

According to the FCC, since the coup on Feb. 1, 2021, these organizations have made invaluable contributions to understanding recent dramatic events in Myanmar. The company noted that some of the detained journalists were charged under a law criminalizing any discussion believed to undermine military or police morale.

Frontier Myanmar welcomed Fenster, 37, in August 2020.

He was en route to see his family in the US when he was detained, according to Dateline Detroit, a news website to which he contributed occasionally.

Frontier’s Chief Executive and Founder, Sonny Swe, told CPJ via a messaging app that the U.S. Embassy was aware of Fenster’s arrest and was working on it. For owning an independent newspaper, we spent eight years in jail under former military generals.

Danny has been detained since this morning and Frontier has not been able to contact him since then, Frontier said in a tweet on Monday night. “We are concerned for his wellbeing and urge his immediate release. At the moment, our top priorities are to ensure his safety and to provide him with whatever assistance he needs.”

Myanmar’s generals have cracked down on reporting and online communication and used increasingly brutal tactics against those who continue to protest against the coup. Independent local media have been ordered to close and about 80 journalists have been detained, roughly half of whom remain detained awaiting charges or trial.

A New Vaccine SIgn For Thai Taxis Gives The Thai Taxi Industry Hope That Things Will Get Better

May 28, 2021

During a time when customers are hard to come by, some taxis are advertising their vaccine safety with a “Vaccine” sign for cabbies who have their shots. Smart Taxi’s managing director created the LED sign and believes it will make commuters and passengers feel safer. Furthermore, he believes it will encourage taxi drivers who have not yet received their jabs to do so immediately.
Early results from the newly launched program have shown increased ridership of taxis with vaccine signs, increasing their earnings to over 600 baht per day. Smart Taxi requires that taxi drivers show their official vaccine certificates in order to qualify. The information will then be added to a database maintained by the Department of Land Transport.
As of now, the program is very small, as most taxi drivers in Thailand have only received one dose of the two-jab vaccination. The first 2 drivers to be fully vaccinated launched May 24 and are happy with the results so far, saying that their passengers seem more confident and that the vaccine signs themselves are attracting attention and bringing in more riders.
Bright green signs replace the “available” signs open taxis usually display with the words “Covid” and “vaccine” with a checkmark. There are three languages on the sign: Thai, English, and Chinese. Smart Taxi, which operates about 5,000 taxis, operates the program exclusively. In 2018, the Department of Land Transport launched the “Taxi OK” program to improve service and safety for its customers. It also has its own ride-hailing app to compete with Grab and other ride-sharing services.
Other companies haven’t announced whether they will follow Grab’s lead in displaying their drivers’ vaccination status, but Grab has been securing vaccines for their drivers since February and plans to vaccinate all employees by the end of 2022. As the Thai government struggles to implement mass vaccination programs across the country, Smart Taxi believes boosting confidence in local transportation can be a driving force for the economy.

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