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Thailand: Inside a Bangkok prison

Categories: East Asia, Thailand, Human Rights, Protest

Gary Graeme Jones [1] is a prisoner in Bang Kwang Prison. The infamous Bangkok Hilton. So many people have heard of it but do not realise what a nightmare that name conjures

Gary’s supporters have set-up a blog to publish letters and other reports from Gary. Bang Kwang Prison [2] is Thailand's central, high-security prison for men. Many of the inmates in this prison are foreigners involved in illegal narcotics trade. Who is Gary? [3]

Gary is a British Citizen, Married to a Thai with four adopted kids. He was born in 1950 and is doing Life for the exporting of 2.4Kg of heroin. That’s the website info. We have found Gary to be articulate, intelligent and extremely outspoken in the treatment of prisoners, not just in the Thai jails but everywhere in the world. As we go on we will post stuff that Gary has written in letters, descriptions of his fellow prisoners, pictures where possible and gradually we will get a picture of him and his life.

Gary’s prison blog is not regularly updated. But from time to time, it provides important information about the conditions of the prisoners inside Bang Kwang. These blog posts were helpful in getting the attention of mainstream media, civil society groups, and the public so that the basic rights of the inmates will be guaranteed.

During the AH1N1 scare a few months ago, Gary notified journalists about the mild AH1N1 outbreak [4] inside the prison:

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.)

This article was reprinted in many websites. Even mainstream journalists reported this issue. Gary said this helped in forcing prison officials to implement some crucial health reforms [5] in the prison facilities to stop the spread of AH1N1.

Last month Gary wrote about the alleged executions of prisoners [6] in Bang Kwang. He also exposed the corrupt activities of prison authorities.

Now that the prisoners have been shown that executions can happen at any time “Life Insurance” is now being paid to the Building Chief, Bunlom Conwichet by most of the 24 names listed below. This is a bribe paid so that the poor unfortunates names are not next on the list for the lethal injection

Human rights activists and bloggers [7] noted the significance [8] of this expose. They are now demanding an official investigation on this issue.

Gary’s blog does not only provide a rare glimpse about the life of prisoners in Bang Kwang. It is also a proof that blogs can be used to force policy changes even in prison cells.