RANONG, Thailand (Reuters) – One afternoon in October, in the watery no-man’s land between Thailand and Myanmar, Muhammad Ismail vanished.
Thai immigration officials said he was being deported to Myanmar. In fact, they sold Ismail, 23, and hundreds of other Rohingya Muslims to human traffickers, who then spirited them into brutal jungle camps.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department is gathering information for its next Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report, due to be published in June. It ranks countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking. Thailand faces an automatic downgrade to Tier 3, the lowest rank, unless it makes “significant efforts” to improve its record, the State Department says.
In an interview with Reuters, Police Maj-Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit of the Royal Thai Police defended Thailand’s record for investigating and prosecuting traffickers and the Thai officials who help them.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – In jubilant scenes hard to imagine after days of clashes, protesters swept aside barricades in old Bangkok on Tuesday to occupy the grounds of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s office and warmly greet the police who, until just hours before, had rained teargas and rubber bullets upon them.
Cheering, flag-waving crowds marched through the gates of Government House, a heavily fortified flashpoint in a protracted protest aimed at toppling Yingluck’s government and banishing the influence of her brother, exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – The French have the best phrase for Thailand’s turbulent politics: déjà vu.
Five years ago, a Thai government led by Somchai Wongsawat, the brother-in-law of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was besieged by ultra royalist street protesters bent on overthrowing what they saw as a corrupt and illegitimate regime.
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Protesters are bedding down on plastic sheets in its grand reception area. Some bathe in the well-kept garden or hang laundry from its potted plants.
But Thailand’s Finance Ministry insists it still runs despite thousands of demonstrators occupying its buildings.
TACLOBAN, Philippines (Reuters) – Minutes before a tsunami-like storm surge slammed into the Philippine coastal city of Tacloban, a tall man in a motorcycle helmet strode along the shore through ferocious typhoon winds.
Mayor Alfred Romualdez, 51, was wearing the headgear to protect against what he called a wind so strong “it would take your eyes out.” He didn’t see the wall of water coming and was lucky to survive the catastrophe that killed at least 819 people there and 3,633 across the central Philippines.
TACLOBAN, Philippines, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Philippine
President Benigno Aquino was under growing pressure on Thursday
to speed up the distribution of food, water and medicine to
desperate survivors of a powerful typhoon and to get paralysed
local governments functioning.
Widespread looting of rice stocks and other supplies broke
out across the central Philippines on Wednesday despite the
deployment of solders to maintain law and order.
TACLOBAN, Philippines (Reuters) – Desperation gripped Philippine islands devastated by Typhoon Haiyan as looting turned deadly on Wednesday and survivors panicked over shortages of food, water and medicine, some digging up underground water pipes and smashing them open.
Five days after one of the strongest storms ever recorded slammed into cities and towns in the central Philippines, anger and frustration boiled over on Wednesday as essential supplies dwindled. Some survivors scrawled signs reading “Help us”.
TACLOBAN, Philippines, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Dead bodies clog
the basement of the Tacloban City Convention Centre. The dazed
evacuees in its sports hall are mostly women and children. The
men are missing.
That so few men made it to this refuge shows how dimly aware
they were of the threat posed by Typhoon Haiyan, which crashed
into the central Philippines on Friday with some of the
strongest winds ever recorded.
TACLOBAN, Philippines, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Philippine
President Benigno Aquino said local officials had overstated the
death toll from Typhoon Haiyan, saying it was closer to 2,000 or
2,500 than the 10,000 previously estimated, comments that drew
scepticism from some aid workers.
The government has been overwhelmed by the typhoon, which
flattened Tacloban, coastal capital of Leyte province where
several local officials have said they feared 10,000 people
died, many drowning in a tsunami-like surge of seawater.