Archive for September, 2021

Thai Crime: Thai DSI Is Re-Investigating Case That Happened In 2014

September 30, 2021

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is moving quickly to respond to a request by prosecutors to provide more information on the 2014 killing of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen.
DSI director-general, Pol Lt Col Korrawat Panprapakorn said he has instructed investigators to work quickly to find additional information.
On Sept 9, the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) asked the DSI to furnish additional information in key areas in the Porlajee case which prosecutors still have queries about.
They include the test to ascertain the bloodline connection between Porlajee and his mother, the use of special instruments in examining the bone fragments believed to be those of the activist, and the forensic results on the bones.
Two yIn the meantime, prosecutors dropped the most serious charges including murder against Chaiwat and the three others.
The DSI had recommended that prosecutors press up to eight charges against the officials and also filed its disagreement with their decision not to indict them for murder.ears ago, skull fragments, which the DSI determined to be Porlajee’s, were retrieved from Kaeng Krachan reservoir in Phetchaburi.
An OAG panel has said there was not enough evidence to determine if the bone fragments indeed belonged to Porlajee.
As a consequence, there was insufficient proof to link four suspects — Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, a former head of Kaeng Krachan National Park, and Bunthaen Butsarakham, Thanaset Chaemthet, and Kritsanaphong Chitthet — to Porlajee’s disappearance and murder, according to the prosecutors.
The evidence included a DNA test on the skull fragments believed to be Porlajee’s, which the DSI insisted was a match to his mother’s DNA. However, the prosecutors felt more information and evidence were needed to back the DSI’s investigation.

Coup Era Has Not Been Easy For Myanmar Women

September 30, 2021

Khine Thu fled her home in Myanmar’s northwestern Sagaing region for the first time, fleeing into the jungle as soldiers stormed her village. Though she has lost count of how many times she has fled since she thinks it might be about 15.
“We run whenever we hear soldiers coming,” she said. “We escape into the forest and return to the village when the soldiers are gone.”
109 people have been killed in the region since July, according to a report Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on September 19.
Human rights groups and local media documented mass killings in July in Depayin and Kani townships, where 73 people died. As security forces maintain a presence in the area’s villages, women are living with the effects of conflict on a daily basis. The military blocked internet access in 10 townships in the Sagaing region this month, including Kani, raising fears that the military may intensify its attacks.
The violence began in Khine Thu’s village of Satpyarkyin in Depayin township on June 14, when soldiers opened fire and killed one person after the bodies of two daughters of a military administrator were found in a nearby village.
As a result of the soldiers’ return on July 2, at least 32 local people were killed by indiscriminate shelling and small arms fire, according to the NUG report. Meanwhile, Myanmar Now reported that 10,000 people from eleven villages fled their homes following the clashes.
The People’s Defence Force (PDF) in Depayin said on its Facebook page that 26 of its members were killed in the incident and that the military had fired heavy weapons onto fleeing villagers, while the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported that “armed terrorists” had “ambushed” security forces, killing one soldier and injuring six before retreating after security forces retaliated
As well as the other women Al Jazeera spoke to, Khine Thu requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. She said soldiers have been in and out since then, and that she and other villagers were always ready to flee. When the soldiers leave, the village remains.
Shops and markets are closed.
When hiding in the forest for days or weeks at a time, she said, the villagers have difficulty meeting their basic needs.
“We couldn’t get water sometimes,” she said. On some days, we ate only one meal, or rice with salt and oil or fish paste. I’m depressed, and sometimes I don’t even want to live anymore.”
Aye Chan, a local resident, said people do not have access to medicine and rely on plants and herbs to treat their ailments.
Khine Thu and she have stopped working as hired farmhands due to the danger.
“We can’t live in peace.”. We can’t work. “We are dependent on other people’s donations and run around for safety whenever [soldiers] arrive,” said Aye Chan. The presence of soldiers in our village affects us mentally and physically. We are unable to eat or sleep.
In the weeks following its seizure of power from the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the military has used force and widespread arrests to crush mass protests and a civil disobedience movement.
Over 1,100 people have been killed and more than 8,200 arrested since then, according to a rights group tracking the military’s abuses, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) or AAPP.
In an effort to resist military rule peacefully, many people have taken up arms. Some have joined existing ethnic armed organisations, while others have joined local resistance groups founded across the country in recent months, including in areas like Depayin and Kani, where the majority-Bamar residents reside.
It also announced in May the formation of a national-level People’s Defence Force (PDF), whose size and activities remain largely unknown. On September 7, it proclaimed a “people’s defensive war,” calling on citizens to “revolt” against the military.
Many local armed resistance groups, which also call themselves PDFs but are not affiliated with the NUG, face a military that has accumulated at least $2.4 billion in weapons over the past decade, armed with little more than single-shot hunting rifles and with little training or combat experience.
Asymmetrical tactics, including ambushes on military convoys and police stations, have been used to claim hundreds of military soldiers dead. In response, the military has indiscriminately attacked their communities, just as it has in areas with ethnic armed groups since the 1960s.
In the past, the military has labeled ethnic armed groups as “insurgents” or “terrorists” and targeted ethnic areas under the guise of national security. It now follows a similar narrative.
According to a statement released by the military on August 28, PDFs, the NUG, and the committee that appointed them are considered terrorist organizations. Anyone who encourages people to participate in terrorist acts, shelters members of these groups, or provides financial support to them would also be considered terrorists.
Earlier this year, a United Nations-appointed fact-finding mission described how the military uses rape to terrorize and punish ethnic minorities, saying such acts are “part of a deliberate, well-planned strategy to intimidate, terrorize and punish civilians.”
In May, a 15-year-old girl in Sagaing region was raped and killed by soldiers, according to an ethnic Chin rights group, and in July, Radio Free Asia reported that a woman in Kachin State was found raped and stabbed to death near a military outpost on the way to her farm and that the military was investigating the case.
Thandar Aye, a women’s rights activist who works in the Sagaing region and neighboring Chin State, told Al Jazeera that soldiers commonly harass women verbally, and she worries that additional cases of physical or sexual assault may go unreported due to social stigma and fear of retaliation from the military.
Women in the region, she added, avoid leaving their homes even during the day due to concern that soldiers could sexually assault them. “Women cannot go out freely,” she said. “Most women are just staying inside their houses and facing food shortages.”
Phyoe, a grocery store owner from Chyaung Ma village, told Al Jazeera that she goes out as little as possible for this reason.
“I heard that women were raped in some other villages and regions, so I am really afraid that it could happen to me,” she said.
She is among at least 15,000 civilians displaced by intense clashes since April in Kani Township, located 100km (62 miles) southwest of Depayin.
“When [soldiers] come, we close everything and run again. Only elderly and women with small children who cannot run are left in the village,” said Phyoe, who, like Khine Thu, can no longer remember the number of times she and her family have fled.
In July, 43 bodies were found in four locations of Kani township, according to the NUG report; the AAPP and media documented signs of torture on most of the bodies. The military has not released any public statements or responded to media inquiries in response to the deaths.
“[Soldiers] accused normal locals of participating in the PDF, and they killed many people who were taking refuge in the forest,” said Phyoe. “We aren’t safe at home, and we aren’t safe in the forest either … We have been sleepless since soldiers came to our village.”
Soldiers have twice occupied Phyoe’s house; they have also stolen valuables from her home and emptied the shelves of her family’s grocery store.
She said Chyaung Ma’s streets are deserted after dark, and when soldiers come through, locals who remain in the village are too afraid to move around inside their homes for fear they could be shot.
Unable to earn an income or buy goods, her family is now relying on food donations from relatives and other villagers.
“[Soldiers’] presence in our village and all the cruel things [they did] really affected our lives and survival,” she said.
Thuzar also runs a small shop and lives in Na Myar village, which lies 30km (18 miles) east of Satpyarkyin in Depayin township. She too has been in and out of the forest since soldiers fired artillery and raided her village on August 9.
“Everyone in the village prepared a few things in case the soldiers came, but when they actually came, we escaped in a hurry, so we couldn’t bring much with us,” she said.
With only trees and some small tarpaulins to provide shelter from the rain, they watched as artillery struck a nearby herd of goats.
“The images of dead goats were so grotesque,” said Thuzar. “We are depressed and hurt mentally because we have seen many things that we shouldn’t see.”
When the soldiers left on August 9, villagers returned home to find their property vandalized and looted. “[Soldiers] took all the food from our refrigerator and ransacked our wardrobe,” she said. “We had locked the door of one room, and they destroyed the door…They took everything. They didn’t even leave the 2,000 Myanmar kyat ($1.20) in my daughter’s school bag.”
Among other things, soldiers trashed her friend’s refrigerator by filling it with sand, and in some houses where elderly people were left behind, “one soldier talked to them at the front door while other soldiers went into the house from the back and took whatever they wanted.”
Later in August, soldiers occupied the village for about 10 days. Thuzar returned home to find her chickens gone and more than 30 houses raided. At a grocery store at the entrance to the village, locals discovered piles of gunny sacks doused in paraffin oil. “If [soldiers] had lit them, our whole village would have turned to ashes,” she said.
Thuzar and her husband closed their shop after the coup and began farming rice instead.
Now she worries that they won’t have time to finish planting before the end of the rainy season in October.
When things calm down, we go back for a few days and everyone rushes to plant,” she said.

Donkey Kong Is Now Part of Super Nintendo World In Japan

September 30, 2021

Super Nintendo World in Japan is expanding to include a Donkey Kong themed area, and I am ready to plan my trip to Donk City.
If you’ve been daydreaming about your next holiday when travel restrictions ease, let me suggest Super Nintendo World. You can find it set inside Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
Perhaps you want to race on a Mario Karts-inspired course? Or maybe you want to hunt for eggs with Yoshi? You can also punch real blocks and even eat one filled with tiramisu in a restaurant modeled after Toad’s house.
If that isn’t enough for you, though, everyone’s favorite executive ape (Donkey Kong is always wearing a business dress, after all) is getting his own area in the park in 2024.
According to reporting in Video Games Chronicle, the expansion will increase the size of the Super Nintendo world by 70%.
In a press release, Nintendo announced that the new area will include a roller coaster, interactive experiences, and themed food and merch.
Shigeru Miyamoto, the illustrious video game designer (and as he calls himself, ‘Mario’s dad’!), added:
“I am very happy to be able to make the world of Donkey Kong a reality following the world of Mario. I am looking forward to creating a thrilling Donkey Kong experience with the amazing team at Universal. It will take some time until it is completed, but it will be a unique area for not only people who are familiar with Donkey Kong games but for all guests.”
Super Nintendo World opened up in March of this year in Japan. There are versions being built in the Universal Studios theme parks in California and Florida. If you are excited to go ape (I’m so sorry), then you can start planning your trip to Donkey Kong’s area in Osaka in 2024.

Are you hyped to visit Donkey Kong at Super Nintendo World? Are you a fan of any other cool theme parks around the world? Let us know via our social media channel

The Great Flood of 2011 Should Not Repeat In 2021

September 30, 2021

Thailand will not face a repeat of the 2011 floods that devastated the country, according to experts and government officials.
Public concern about the flood situation, which has wreaked havoc in several parts of the country, is being addressed.
Several water retention areas have been created, and a systematic water management system is in place to deal with the situation and store floodwater during the dry season.
“I have instructed provincial governors and the Interior Ministry to be ready to help flood victims,” he said.
In his remarks, he stressed the importance of timely flood alerts and preparing food, drinking water, and relief supplies for the quick delivery to flood victims.
The executive director of the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda), Pakorn Ataphant, said several factors will prevent a repeat of the 2011 flooding.
As compared to 2011, Thailand was battered by several storms, rather than the current situation in which only a few storms have arrived.
According to him, aerial photographs from 2011 showed about 25 million rai of land was flooded, but aerial photographs taken in 2021 showed about 2.5 million rai underwater.
After the 2011 flood, water management plans have improved significantly, with the construction of flood levees and the addition of 160,000 rai of water retention areas, Pakorn said.
Flooding will not be severe except in coastal communities, where shallow floodwaters may reach 30 cm, but this will drain away within a few days. In 2011, economic and industrial areas were not affected,” Pakorn said.
The Natural Disaster Warning Council released an assessment of the current flood situation compared to the 2011 floods earlier this week.
Pramote Maiklad, the vice-chairman of the foundation and former director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), said the water level in the country’s four major dams is low compared with 2011. Therefore, a repeat of 2011 is unlikely.
Similarly, Sutat Weesakul, director of the Hydro-Informatics Institute, said two major dams — Bhumibol Dam and Sirikit Dam — are currently half full.
The dams still have enough capacity to take in more water in the case of two more storms, he said, adding the level of the Chao Phraya River is still low thanks to the construction of high embankments along the river.
As Sakchai Boonma, the deputy governor of Bangkok, explained, much of the water run-off from the North will not reach Bangkok, as the RID will divert it to Chachoengsao, Prachin Buri, and Ayutthaya.
“People in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces shouldn’t worry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pasak Jolasid Dam officials in Lop Buri on Wednesday sent a warning letter to the five downstream provinces of Lop Buri, Saraburi, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, and Nonthaburi, saying the dam was holding 953 million cubic meters on Wednesday morning, or 99.27% of its capacity. The dam would need to speed up water discharges.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and cabinet ministers handed out relief supplies to flood victims in Chaiyaphum’s Muang district.
The premier also inspected flood management operations in the northeastern province.
He also expressed concern for tens of millions of farmers whose farmland has been damaged by flooding, adding that the government will come up with measures to fix the economy, eradicate poverty, and boost incomes.

Thai Crime: Thai PM Does Not Like The Amount Of Police Officers Are Getting Misconduct

September 29, 2021

Police officers found guilty of misconduct will face immediate and severe punishment, according to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. 176 Royal Thai Police officers have been found guilty of misconduct since January.
Recently, the prime minister met with the Royal Thai Police Bureau to discuss the most recent cases of police misconduct. Since last January, 131 police officers have been disciplined, 38 have been removed from service, and 7 have been fired. 28 officers have been disciplined, 23 have been fired, and 5 have been removed from service this month.
Former police superintendent Joe Ferrari and six of his subordinates are accused of suffocating a suspect to death in an attempt to extort 2 million baht from him. The seven officers are being held in Bangkok’s Klong Prem Central Prison.
Maj-Gen. Yingyot Thepjamnong, spokesperson for the RTP, says the disciplinary action against officers shows the commission is taking misconduct seriously. Yingyot adds that officers who commit misconduct in criminal cases will be punished through the judicial process.

Opposition Groups Have Bombed A Police Station In The Myanmar Capital

September 29, 2021

It is the latest in a series of similar attacks in the former capital in recent months that two anti-junta guerrilla groups have bombed a police station in downtown Yangon.
The Yangon Anti-Dictatorship Force said it bombed the fourth floor of the Kyauktada Township police station on Sule Pagoda road early in the morning.
A guerrilla group called 44st-UG teamed up with the group in honor of activists who died in an August military raid on Yangon’s 44th street.
The statement stated, “We were able to retreat safely after the incident.”.
The woman who lives near the police station said she didn’t know if anyone was hurt in the blast. It had just stopped raining when I heard a loud bang at 7:30 am. I thought it was a thunderclap at first. “My heart was racing,” she said.
She cited other locals who said Junta forces tightened security in the area and started inspecting pedestrians. Police interrogated three young men, she added.
Since June, as a result of the junta’s murderous crackdown on peaceful protesters, attacks against junta targets have increased.
On Monday, several blasts and shootings were reported in the Yangon townships of Kamayut, Hlaing, and North Okkalapa, reportedly resulting in several deaths and injuries.

Game Bits: People Can Fly Changes Strategy, Ex-Electric Square People Form Rev Rooms

September 29, 2021

Gaming Company Wants To Find A New Strategy

This change in strategy will see People Can Fly expanding into AA games and new genres alongside its AAA shooter efforts.
According to the Outriders studio, its AAA games will have quality comparable to its previous titles but will have a shorter development time, lower budget, and smaller scope.
A goal is to release at least one game each year, beginning in 2024, and the company plans to hire new teams or acquire new studios specifically to work on those titles.
After acquiring Chicago-based Phosphor Studios in April, People Can Fly now has seven studios worldwide.
The company emphasized that the new strategy will be pursued in addition to its previous one and that it will work on multiple AAA titles simultaneously.

Rev Rooms Developers Come From Electric Square

Former Electric Square developers announced the formation of Rev Rooms, a game audio studio.
Based in Brighton, the new office will provide services such as original recordings, sound effects, and voice-overs.
Gwen Raymond, Andy Gibson, and Gavin Shepherd formed the new studio.
Previously, Raymond, Gibson, and Shepherd worked at Electric Square, where Raymond served as a senior programmer, Gibson as audio lead, and Shepherd as studio audio lead.
Gibson remarked, “We are so fortunate to have brought together such a strong team at Rev Rooms.”
According to him, “We have all worked in small and large studios and know how important it is for outsourcing companies to become as much part of the development team as possible, delivering integrated audio without pain and friction.

Thailand Has Four Phases Of Reopening The Country To The World

September 29, 2021

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration announced its plan to gradually reopen Thailand. CCSA’s plan includes four phases that take into account tourism revenue, geography, and COVID prevention.
Pilot phase: October 1 to October 31. Phuket, Surat Thani, including Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan, and Koh Tao islands. Phang Nga, including Khao Lak coastal area and Koh Yao island. Krabi, including Koh Phi Phi and Koh Ngai islands, Railay, Khlong Muang and Tub Kaak beaches. Also included in the Pilot Phase are the Phuket and Samui Sandbox programs that were previously launched over the last couple of months.Phase 1: November 1 to 30 Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Nga, Prachuap Khiri Khan, including Hua Hin and Nong Kae subdistricts. Phetchaburi, including the Cha-am district. Chonburi, including Pattaya City, Jomtien, and Bang Saray subdistricts. Ranong, including Koh Phayam. Chiang Mai, including Muang, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, and Doi Tao districts. Loei, including the Chiang Khan district. Buriram, including the Muang district.Phase 2: December 1 to 31. Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Phrae, Nong Khai, Sukhothai, Phetchabun, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, Samut Prakan, Trat, Rayong, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Yala, and Narathiwat.Phase 3: January 2022-TBD. Surin, Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, Tak, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Bueng Kan, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Nan, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi and Satun.

Pattaya City’s mayor also confirmed that Pattaya will not reopen until November.

Thai Crime: Thai Police Arrest Seven People For Doing A Scam At New Bang Sue Station

September 28, 2021

In late July, seven suspects were arrested in connection with the vaccination registration scam at Bang Sue central railway station.
The suspects were identified as Pakamon Hompak, her husband Wichayapong Teera-angkananont, Surinat Patamawichaiporn, Jumpol Sriyapai, Bundhita Roongsawang, Kantima Yangthong and Hathaichanok Borirak.
Six people were arrested earlier in Bangkok, Ratchaburi, and Songkhla. Bundhita surrendered to police in Bangkok recently.
A team of seven volunteers assisted with the registration of people for Covid-19 inoculation appointments at the vaccination center at Bang Sue Grand Station.
Officials at the center discovered irregularities in late July when they discovered that about 1,000 additional names were being entered every day after 8 pm, when official working hours ended.
On July 28, more than 2,000 people waited in line at Gate No 4, even though only 384 people under the Foreign Ministry’s quota were expected to be vaccinated there.
There was an investigation into the unusually high number of people who turned up for vaccination. A majority of those who showed up had paid 400-1,200 baht each, as demanded by some people to get their names registered for appointments.
Siriluck Ubonnua, deputy director of the Bang Sue central vaccination center, filed a complaint with the Noppawong Railway Police seeking legal action against people involved in the fraud.
An investigation was conducted by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB). About 200 people who were harmed were called to testify. Scammers took in about 7 million baht.
The CIB obtained court warrants for the arrest of the seven suspects based on the information provided by the witnesses.
The suspects were charged with violating the Computer Crimes Act.
In the presence of Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a press conference was held on Monday about the arrests at Gate 1 of the Bang Sue central vaccination center.

Myanmar Military Going After Civilian Opposition Members

September 28, 2021

Recent days have seen a wave of killings of civilians by junta forces, including members and supporters of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) and villagers living in anti-regime strongholds.
One of the fatalities reported over the past three days was Mandalay-based political activist and philanthropist Ko Than Htun Oo, a.k.a. Ko Min Ko Thein, a member of NLD’s Mandalay branch. On Saturday, he died in police custody within a few hours of being arrested.
Ko Fatty, 48, was arrested at his home in Aungmyaytharzan Township of Mandalay Region for alleged weapons possession, according to his friends.
Ko Than Htun Oo, also known as Ko Min Ko Thein, is a political activist and philanthropist based in Mandalay and a member of the NLD’s Mandalay branch.
During the raid on his home, junta forces ordered him to kneel. Apparently, he was shot in the knee when he said he couldn’t kneel due to his weight. He was arrested even though no weapons were found. His family learned about his death on Sunday night. The body was not returned to the family, and regime officials said the funeral was organized themselves.
On Friday, a second NLD member in Mandalay, Ko Ye Yint, was also killed in detention. Apparently fleeing the police station, the 30-year-old was shot dead. The junta detained him for setting off a bomb explosion in Sein Pan ward, near his residence. The locals, however, rejected the junta’s accusations against their neighbor.
On Friday morning, U Pauk Gyi, a vocal supporter of the NLD in Mandalay, was also found dead along an embankment in Sein Pan, Maharaungmyay Township. AAPP stated in their most recent report that his body bore stab wounds to the neck and a gunshot wound to the head.
U Pauk Gyi was arrested and taken away by junta soldiers and members of Pyu Saw Htee, a militia group trained and armed by the junta, at midnight last Thursday following a tip from a junta informant.
Youth activists and villagers from strongholds of anti-regime resistance groups who have inflicted heavy casualties on junta forces were also killed recently.
As junta forces arrested Ko Sithu Kaung Myat, 24, from Bago City in Bago Region on Thursday, he was shot in the head, stomach, and hands. The AAPP reported that he died on Friday while receiving medical treatment at Bago General Hospital.
According to the AAPP, police sealed the house he and his mother lived in after he died so that no one could enter.
Four youths were shot dead in Sanchaung Township, Yangon Region, at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. Propaganda published by military supporters portrayed the incident as a shootout between civilian guerrilla fighters and junta forces on the Myaynigone flyover. The propaganda accounts also stated there were casualties among the junta forces.
However, according to accounts of locals and video footage recorded by a civilian, there was no shootout in the area and the youths were dragged down from their apartment, beaten and kicked several times, and shot.
In Kayah State’s Demoso Township, which has seen intense clashes between junta forces and civilian resistance fighters, a 70-year-old wearing a T-shirt with a UN emblem was shot dead on Sunday.
The hearse carrying his body hit a mine allegedly planted by regime troops on Monday.
Over the weekend, scores of civilians were also killed in Sagaing Region, which has seen numerous junta raids in response to civilian resistance.
On Sunday, heavy troops raided Tharsi Village in Sagaing’s Kalay Township and shot and killed a police officer and a villager.
On their way back from Tharsi, the group attacked the troops with an allied group, the People’s Defense Force-Kalay reported. Three junta troops were killed in the clash.
On Sunday, local community pages in Sagaing Region reported that four villagers, including a woman in her 60s, were killed in Nabutaw Village, Yinmabin Township.
Monyway and Kyaymon villages in Monywa were also surrounded by junta soldiers on Monday, who arrested several villagers.