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 (approx 10p) for his. Clearly this was yet another scam; common to many others perpetrated upon us and our visitors by staff at the “Department of Corruptions”

As far as I was concerned at this point, this was just a more reasonable (financially) extension of the scam imposed by Bunlom Conwichet, the building chief guard of D2, whereby his trustee inmates (I call them kapos), were “shaking down” Farangs (foreigners) for 100 Baht (£2) per mask. Principal amongst these was Conwichet’s own personal Kapo, Yoot.

However, on Thursday (6th Aug 09), much to everyone’s surprise, face masks were handed out for free to both the D2 death row inmates (341 occupants in D2) and the non-death row inmates (399) such as myself. It was immediately apparent to many of us that something of a major “moment” had occurred that had uncharacteristically forced the D.O.C. to become concerned about the risk we inmates were being exposed to from the H1N1 virus.

By Friday (7th Aug 09), when I was shown the Bailey/Dufall emails, I started to get a very firm idea that it was the above mentioned article that had most probably caused the D.O.C. to reverse a long held policy of leaving the countries 300,000 – 350,000 inmates population openly susceptible to contracting life threatening illnesses.

This opinion was further underscored at 15:30 when we non-death row inmates were returned to our cells. Each of us had to (willingly on our part) submit to having our temperature taken before being allowed to enter the cell-block building.

Those registering a fever – on Friday 3 inmates, and Saturday (8th Aug 09) 3 more – were segregated and transferred to the Bang Kwang hospital building (D12) for a Tami-flu shot. Rather, I should say an alleged Tami-flu shot going on the past performance of the corrupt medical officer in charge of D12. I think that it’s significant to note that those on death-row are not similarly screened when they return to their cells at 14:00.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that it is solely due to the article and its readership that we have suddenly achieved a modicum of protection from this virulent scourge.

I and others within the Prison system here in Thailand, owe a debt of thanks to this Journalist who had the courage to post the article and in the process has probably saved many lives.

Thank you Sir, we all appreciate it.

Dr Gary Graeme Jones

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