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Showing posts from 2009

The Thai King and Lese Majeste

The literary magazine ‘Granta’ published a series of essays, probably in 1998, by noted media commentators expressing their immediate reactions upon hearing the news of Princess Diana’s death in a car crash. As I recall, many of the articles were suspicious of the British Queen’s possible involvement in the accident. The writers expressed that their initial reactions ranged from “a fortuitous event for the monarch” to; to my own personal favourite; “did the Queen fix her brakes?”

In the UK and many other countries, we have the freedom to criticise our leaders. For the most part, those occupying privileged positions are not protected from public censure, freedom of thought and the ability to voice those thoughts is considered to be an essential human right.

Not so in Thailand. Sixty three years after the murder of his brother, Rama VIII behind closed doors in the palace where the only other occupant of the room was the present incumbent, any free discussion, albeit in private, as to the …

More D2 Death Row information.

There may have been some confusion over my last entry on the blog on the subject of Death Row. This is my fault for not being more specific, sorry.

The 24 names given were for those on D2 Death Row who had been excluded, although eligible, from the Kings Birthday amnesty on December 5th 2007. It is by order of the incumbent that :

drug cases, whether the sentence is death, life or numbered must be excluded from the first amnesty which by virtue of having exhausted all appeals in the courts they would have otherwise received

Having exhausted 3 courts, the only possible means for someone who is on a Death sentence to get a commutation to life, is by an appeal to the King. However, only in exceptionally rare cases will the Monarch rule on this before he receives notification that the victim is scheduled for imminent execution. The appeal process frequently takes many years and the victim is only ever informed of the Kings decision to decline a reduction in sentence about 2-3 hours before…

Sexual Abuse in Thai Prisons

If accounts of sexual abuse offend you then you’d be well advised to disregard this blog. I must also add that whilst this report focuses upon sex practices as a ‘power game’ in the men’s prison, I have no doubt whatsoever that incidents in the women’s prison are far, far worse.

Equally, and for the record, my personal belief is that adults are free to engage in any consensual indulgence that they want in private. The operative words being: adult, consensual and private. Who am I to say that others should conform to my heterosexual ‘norms’.

Thailand, as a country, has managed to blur sexual identity, So much so that a third sex- The katoey, or lady-boy – clamours for official recognition in both public affairs and sporting events. Generally, a katoey (pronounced ka-toy-ee) is a male who has had some or all of their primary sexual characteristics – penis, breasts, surgically modified so that they appear as females. The degree of augmentation mostly is confined to breasts.

A small, but sig…

What's in a Name?

Most readers of this blog probably have never heard of the name of the one-time major pharmaceutical company named Distillers. We aren’t on-line here in the Hilton so I don’t know if one of the 20th Century’s biggest medical disaster perpetrators – Distillers, manufacturers of Thalidomide – are still in business. The names Distillers and Thalidomide cause members of the 50s and 60s generation to shudder in horror.

On a side issue, that the Directors of Distillers weren’t publically lynched, a-la Saddam Hussain, is a good reason I embraced Atheism during my formative years. Despite my Atheistic beliefs, I still have belief in an overall “Goodness” encapsulated within the human psyche. Perhaps, just perhaps Distillers and its board of Directors festered and withered away in well deserved putrefaction. Please let me know if Google returns a current balance sheet on them or not.

As said though, my overall faith in human nature – outside of Thailand naturally – is strong, so I will gamble fo…

Executions have restarted in Bang Kwang Prison

It has recently been reported that Thailand has restarted executions of Death Row prisoners. The two that were executed were friends of mine that lived with me here in the same building. The two men Bundit Charoenwanich, 45, and Jirawat Phumpruek, 52, were taken in the night and only given 60 minutes to write their last wills and have a one minute phone call to their families before being executed by lethal injection. This was the first executions carried out by Thailand since 2003.

As prisoners, some of us were aware that the lethal injections had been delivered to Bang Kwang prison, but it seems that the decision to execute both men from D2 building was the sole decision of Natee Jitsawang, the Director-General of the Department of Corrections. It was not, so it seems, the decision of the Thai Government, a fact also reported by the BBC World Service.

Now that the prisoners have been shown that executions can happen at any time “Life Insurance” is now being paid to the Building Chief,…

Eye Witness Account of the Riots in Bombat

Back in July of this year I reported on the riots and deaths that had occurred in Bombat prison in April 2009. This riot has never been reportd in the outside world and the Department of Correction would like it kep this way.

The following is an eye witness account of what happened in Bombat Central Prison.

"A Thai Prisoner, un-convicted, jumped one metal fence, climbed on top of a guard station, threw blankets on the concertina wired wall separating building 8 + 9 and was making his way towards the prison wall and the exterior when spotted. A warning shot was fired. Before he could reach the edge or contact the last wall or obstruction, a shot was fired from the guard tower behind building 9 and the inmate fell forward, most probably dead from the head wound. His body remained entangled on the wall between buildings 8 + 9.

A group of prisoners had gathered and began shouting to get assistance and some Thai inmates started to confront the acting building chief who in fear ran into h…

H1N1 In Bang Kwang Prison Part 3

My orignal posting regarding the H1N1 virus in the prison has caused quite a stir.

A journalist picked up on the posting and used it as the basis of an article. This article has since appeared on many sites around the world and many people have read it. A link to what I think is the original http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/Pandemic-AH1N1-Hits-Bang-Kwang-Ce-t285626.html.

The first I knew about this was when I oversaw an email sent from Kate Dufall at the FCO to Gail Bailey, the spokeswoman of the British Womans Group which had been sent to one of the Britons here in Bang Kwang.

The email dated the 3rd of August was demanding to know who blew the whistle on the H1N1 spread here in Bang Kwang Prison.

However, it has had excellent repercussions. Here is the story in full.

On the 5th August Benoit, a French Budhist Monk, visited and in passing mentioned that a new policy was in force and henceforth all those visiting inmates had to buy a face-mask from the guards. Benoit was charged 5 Baht (appr…

H1N1 In Bang Kwang Prison Part 2

A reply has been recieved from Prisoners Abroad regarding the original and it actually opened more questions. See what you think

=====================================
Thank you for your e-mail.

This was the first we had heard about an outbreak of the H1N1 virus at Bang Kwang. We therefore made enquiries with the British Embassy in Bangkok. They informed us as follows:

It was confirmed by Dr Manop - Director of Medicine at Bank Kwang - that a contingency plan is in place and that they have ordered enough Tamiflu to cover every prisoner. Personal supplies of Tamiflu will not be permitted.

As they represent the greatest risk in terms of passing on the infection, all officers have been instructed to wear masks and alcohol spray is readily available. There is lesser chance of an out-break via visitors as they are not in direct contact with the prisoners. Masks will be mandatory from this week with mandatory spraying of all hands with alcohol at the entry gates. I cannot confirm that prisoners a…

Why are so many British people raped, murdered or jailed in Thailand?

Many British Nationals are raped and murdered in Thailand. Many more are held in jails throughout the country.

The following numbers are for the westerners (male and female) in Thai jails as of 20-5-07. As of that date, most of the figures were sent to me by respective Embassies in answer to a questionnaire I had previously sent. The questionnaire was a repeat of an exercise of a similar request to the embassies – also responded to - in the previous year (2006). Both the 2006 and 2007 questionnaires were emphatic that the Consuls include both their own full passport holders as well as those individuals that they were required to represent holding subordinate passports such as the UK’s BNO’s.


Austria 1
Canada 3
Czechoslovakia 2
Estonia 1
France 15
Germany 10
Holland 10
Italy 5
Kazakhstan 4
New Zealand 1
Poland 3
Russia 8
Sweden 1
Switzerland 3
Spain 3
USA 1
Uzbekistan 3
UK 173


The UK’s number was sourced from interviews given to Colin Hastings, editor-in…

H1N1 In Bang Kwang Prison

This is a copy of an email that has been sent to the charity Prisoners Abroad. When we get a reply I will post it as well.


To: Matthew Pinches (matthew@prisonersabroad.org.uk)

Hello Matthew, I hope this email finds you well and not suffering from the effects of what I am about to ask you

As you know from past emails I have sent, we are in contact with many British Passport Holders in Bang Kwang Central Prison Thailand. News has started to reach us of an outbreak of H1N1 (swine flu) inside the prison and it there has been some fatalities. As of the 13th July, 2 prisoners have died as a direct result of the virus, one prison guard has also died and a second is in hospital in a very serious condition (hopefully by now having made a full recovery)

Reports have also been forwarded to me that the Thai Department of Corrections has issued instructions that face masks are to be worn by all staff and prisoners (non Thai prisoners have to pay 100Baht, approx £2 for these masks)

However, can you tel…

Visits to Bang Kwang Stopped in 2007 - Deleted

This Blog entry has been removed for Gary on his Request

Reports of Riots in Bombat and Lat Yao part 2

Following on from my posting earlier questions have been asked of Prisoners Abroad and the British Embassy here in Thailand.

They confirmed in writing that the riots had occurred and that the only British Passport holder involved had been found and visited and deemed safe. He is currently here in Bang Kwang in building D5.

One sad fact to report is that an Italian national died in Bombat. The gentlemans name was Gianni and he died of a heart attack after a round of "Intensive Interrogation" Our thoughts go out to his family. We hope the Italian Government has been made aware.

News has now reached us all about further riots in Lat Yao again this time in May. We have no news on who, what, why nor how but I will update as soon as I get any news.

Be Well All

Report of Riots in Bombat and Lad Yao Prison. One dead

I have asked others to scour the Internet and in particular the Bangkok Post and Nation websites for news of something very serious that has happened here, but it seems the Thai equivalent of a “D” notice has been issued and so news of the following has been suppressed

On the 13th April 2009 there was a riot in the D8 Building in Bombat Prison and a few days after another occurred in Lad Yao. As far as we can ascertain it was sparked by the terrible way that the Thai Prisons are run

Here are the bankable facts on what happened at Bombat. On either the 12th or 13th of April, an initially peaceful protest over screws beating and torturing inmates, escalated into the building called D8, breaking out into a riot. The cell block in D8 was subsequently set on fire. Over 100 inmates were involved and were transferred over a 2 day period to the Bangkok Hilton. The first day’s consignment saw 35 victims sent to the punishment block D10 and 40-50 were sent to the other death row, D5. During the “…

Letter to the Director General.

This is a letter that has been sent to the Director General of the Thai Department of Correction and also the King's Personal Private Secretary.

It details abuses that we have suffered in the Hilton, and despite complaining nothing has been done.

I urge all of you too visit the website and read about the abuses we suffer here in Bang Kwang

Be Well all and be good

Gary

Director General,

We foreign inmates in D2 Bang Kwang write to advise you that since Bunlom Conwichet replaced Adun Sawangchoroen as senior officer in building 2 (D2) in June 2008 unrest and dissatisfaction with the terms and conditions of our confinement has escalated exponentially. Thanks to your ill considered choice of building chief, you are running a very real risk of a potential mutiny to rid ourselves of this racist.

In fairness to you, you should note that copies of this address have been sent not only to His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, but also internet sites critical of your Constabulary, Judicial sy…

Parcels to Prisoners in Bang Kwang

There have been a lot of messages and discussion in various locations on the web lately about parcels getting to prisoners in Thai jails. Reports that parcels had been disallowed have abounded on various places and so called official websites

However, I have been regularly receiving parcels sent to me with, apart from one or two issues, all contents totally intact. The original reason given for disallowing parcels was that drugs were being smuggled into the prisons, but its probably more like the Guards and Wardens were seeing a hit in their kickbacks, as they were not selling as much to the inmates

However nice it is to receive goods in the post, getting letters is just as nice. It shows that we haven't been forgotten and strangely it helps on the inside. If we can show the guards that we have friends on the outside we get some measure of protection. It frightens them a little, and the tend to lay off a bit.

If you want to write have a look at http://www.foreignprisoners.com/ and s…

Apathy

A typical example of the apathy that exists in here has just occured to me.

Each morning I sit with a very intelligent inmate from Malaysia, George (63yrs old, Death Row) whose been here for 2 years now on a murder charge. The time I spend with George is very beneficial for me as he speaks college level English, and Ive found that prattling away in "pidgin" to others really does my brain in eventually. Besides all that, he is an ex-pat of long standing in Bangkok and he and I have several notable personalities of the local bar scene in common.

However, I have just had to cut short a session with him as I was on the verge of exploding in rage. He and I were discussing and critiscising the Human Rights agencies for thier seeming lack of interetsin in Thai prison conditions. My contention is that far too many prisoners are not bothering to write to friends, family and supporters illustrating the abuses. In turn those few on the outside who are willing to campaign on our behalfs h…

Prisoners Abroad and Her Majesty's Government

Usually I can constrain my anger over most situations but what has pushed the “Big Red Button” in this instance is an utterly puerile letter I received from the UK charity Prisoners Abroad (P.A.). In missionary terms, my cup of bile runneth over.

Ostensibly P.A’s role is to provide much needed services for Britons in foreign gaols. In reality things are much more devious.

Upon very careful consideration, and supported by letters from a long term inmate (now ex-inmate after 17 years) to me, it becomes fairly easy to see that P.A’s function is not to support Britons in overseas jails, but rather to shield the various Embassies and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in countries where Britons are incarcerated, from having to address any of the valid issues that those Britons raise.

I’ll go further. Even the much vaunted £30 per calendar month support grant paid by P.A to inmates in Thai jails does us more harm than good! Because of this grant, which is incidentally controlled by the Britis…

Bloody Missionaries

I am an atheist and as such I don’t take too kindly to being hassled by folks whose sole aim is to – at best- feed upon my misfortune to attempt a conversion. At worst, and there are numerous instances of this, they line their own pockets by soliciting funds from real Christians by lying to them that these funds will support prisoners welfare.

My first really bad experience of these evil people was back in ’73 when I was fighting bankruptcy. I was targeted by Jehovah‘s Witnesses and instead of warding off my bankruptcy I was warding of offensive and incessant attempts to convert me.

Since being in here, as with all other inmates, I’ve been the target of innumerable missionaries. Only four Christians have I had any time for; Vernon de Florey-Morris, Reul and Phoebe Lumilang and Sister Christine. Sadly, both Vernon and Christine have passed away and Reul and Phoebe have been moved to another part of Thailand by their church. The others, without fail, have all proved to be concerned with t…