Philips provides update on earlier announced voluntary CPAP, BiPAP and Mechanical Ventilator recall notification*

November 14, 2021

Amsterdam, the Netherlands – On June 14, 2021, Royal Philips’ (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) subsidiary, Philips Respironics, initiated a voluntary recall notification* for certain sleep and respiratory care products to address identified potential health risks related to the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam in these devices. Following the substantial ramp-up of its production, service, and repair capacity, the repair and replacement program in the US and several other markets is under way.

As expected, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently conducted an inspection of a Philips Respironics manufacturing facility in connection with the recall. On November 12, 2021, the FDA published a list of the observations it provided to Philips Respironics. In accordance with normal practice, Philips Respironics will submit its response to the inspectional findings for review by the FDA. Importantly, an FDA investigator’s list of inspection observations does not constitute a final FDA determination of whether any condition is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or any of its implementing regulations. Additionally, the FDA has not changed its recommendation to patients and healthcare providers in relation to affected devices.

“In connection with the voluntary recall notification in June of this year, the FDA has recently conducted an inspection of a Philips Respironics manufacturing facility in the US,” said Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips. “We will work closely with the FDA to clarify and follow up on the inspectional findings and its recent requests related to comprehensive testing. Until we have concluded these discussions, we are not able to publicly provide further details on these responses. We remain fully committed to supporting the community of patients who rely on the affected devices, and the physicians and customers who are dedicated to meeting patient needs.”

Since June 2021, Philips Respironics and certified testing laboratories have been conducting a comprehensive test and research program on the PE-PUR foam to better assess and scope potential patient health risks, with support from appropriately qualified third-party experts. Philips Respironics plans to make more data available to the relevant competent authorities as soon as possible after completing the assessment of the above mentioned research and tests, which is anticipated to take place in the fourth quarter.

Separately, Philips Respironics has conducted testing to support the new silicone replacement foam. Silicone foam testing provided by Philips Respironics to the FDA on devices authorized for marketing in the US had demonstrated acceptable results. Philips Respironics continues to coordinate with the FDA and other competent authorities on its testing.

An FAQ is available here.

* Voluntary recall notification in the US/field safety notice outside the US

For further information, please contact:

Steve Klink
Philips Global Press Office
Tel.: +31 6 10888824

Derya Guzel
Philips Investor Relations
Tel.: +31 20 59 77055

About Royal Philips
Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and well-being, and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2020 sales of EUR 17.3 billion and employs approximately 78,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at

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This statement contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to the financial condition, results of operations and business of Philips and certain of the plans and objectives of Philips with respect to these items. Examples of forward-looking statements include statements made about the strategy, estimates of sales growth, future EBITA, future developments in Philips’ organic business and the completion of acquisitions and divestments. By their nature, these statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to future events and circumstances and there are many factors that could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements.

This press release contains inside information within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the EU Market Abuse Regulation.

Thai Protesters Rally for Reforms of Monarchy After Court Rules Against Activists

BANGKOK — Thousands protested in Thailand on Sunday in response to a court ruling that said demands to reform the monarchy were illegal. At least three protesters were injured in clashes with Bangkok police.

The Constitutional Court issued the decision last Wednesday, while also ruling that three anti-government activists — Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul – aimed to overthrow the monarchy in speeches made in August 2020.

The activists had listed 10 demands calling for reform of the royal institution, as well as the abolition of Article 112, known as lese-majeste, that criminalizes criticism of the monarchy. The charge carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

Kan Sangtong is an observer working for iLaw, a Thailand human rights organization. He told VOA that protests were expected following the court’s decision on reforming the royal institution.

“The ruling of the Constitutional Court makes the mobs very angry. They try to reform the 112 criminal act,” Kan Sangtong said.

Opposition groups had planned for street rallies to begin at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument and end at Sanam Luang, where the Grand Palace is located. A heavy police presence and large roadblocks made up of shipping containers deterred the anti-government groups, which then relocated to the Pathumwan Intersection.

Demonstrators soon gathered and burned effigies of Constitution Court judges before marching in the direction of Germany’s embassy in Bangkok to submit a statement.

Thailand King Maha Vajiralongkorn is a regular visitor to Germany and reports say he has recently returned to the European country. Protesters marched to the Germany embassy about a year ago to urge Germany to look into whether the monarch was managing Thailand’s state affairs from there. Pro-reform activists have voiced concerns that Thailand could return to being an absolute monarchy.

Thailand was an absolute monarchy for centuries until the system ended in 1932. Since then, Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy. Today, it has a democratic form of government, but with the monarch as the head of state. In recent years, the country has seen military coups, with the last one happening in 2014.

Pravit Rojanaphruk, a veteran journalist who works for Thailand news website Khaosod English, told VOA about the complaints activists have against the current system.

“Protesters [are] perceived as anti-monarchists after the Constitutional Court’s ruling, while demonstrators themselves allege there exists a scheme to return Thailand to de factor absolute monarchy system.”

Demonstrators have argued reforms do not mean the abolition of the monarchy. Many activists were seen holding signs of “No absolute monarchy” on Sunday.

One Thai protester, who didn’t want to share his name because he feared for his safety, told VOA at the rally: “We need to change the constitutional law. The rule of law for Thailand needs to be changed. We want to draft a new law, a new constitution; we need a new one that is for the people!”

As rows of riot police stood behind shields near Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping mall in efforts to block the movements of protesters, small confrontations began, with demonstrators kicking makeshift roadblocks to the ground.

When protesters pushed forward, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as they retreated into a nearby police hospital, local media reported.

At the scene, VOA witnessed one male protester with a wound to the chest. On-site medics treated him quickly and he was taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Hundreds of protesters managed to break away and continue their march to the German embassy, followed by waves of demonstrators on motorcycles. Three representatives were eventually allowed to submit their statements to embassy officials. The rally ended shortly before 7 p.m. local time.

Sean Boonpracong, a national security adviser for the government from 2011 to 2014, said he was surprised by the lack of numbers on the street, saying an estimated 2,000 people were in attendance. He told VOA shifting priorities among Thais may be affecting turnout.

“It doesn’t get the traction as it should. It should be a whole lot more. I expected today to be 20,000 minimum, but it means the people are more pre-occupied with making a living during COVID19,” he said.

But Pitch Pongsawat, an associate dean of faculty of political science at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, told VOA that the movement shouldn’t be solely judged just on offline demonstrations.

“I think it’s simmering; the world is connected. The base is expanding. The new generation really has its own world. We cannot evaluate the struggle purely with offline protests. The online world is like the jungle. People are very brave to criticize,” he added.

Pitch Pongsawat, the associate dean at Chulalongkorn University, said he expected a different approach from authorities following Wednesday’s ruling.

“I thought they were going to let people protest today, record everything and charge them later,” he said. “But instead, they drew a lot of policemen on the street. My confusion is that they could have just used the legal weapon to deal with it. It seems to me they are doing the full-scale suppression.”

The anti-government and reform protests erupted in August 2020, demanding a reduction in the powers of the monarchy. Activist groups have also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, more recently over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He refuses to step down.

In April, cases quickly surged, leading to widespread restrictions and curfews. The pandemic has led to millions of job losses, and many locals struggling to survive. Approximately 58% of Thailand’s population are vaccinated.

Thailand recently reopened its borders to vaccinated visitors from more than 60 countries without the need for quarantine. The reopening is to help boost tourism, a crucial component of the country’s overall economy.

Source: Voice of America

Sunday’s protest gathering place changed to Bangkok’s Pathumwan intersection

Protest organisers have changed the meeting location for today’s rally to the Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok. Protesters began to gather in front of the Bangkok Arts and Culture centre by 2pm.

Organizers had previously announced, via social media, that protesters would gather at the Democracy Monument at 3pm today, before moving to Sanam Luang to continue their political activities.

Since Sanam Luang is just a short distance from the Grand Palace, which is a symbol of the Thai monarchy, police have decided to block all access as a precaution.

Anti-establishment protesters have previously tried to reach the Grand Palace, to demand reform of the monarchy, but their attempts were thwarted by the police.

Empty cargo containers and razor wire have been erected by police to block all access to Sanam Luang in Bangkok, ahead of a mass protest by anti-establishment groups, expected to take place Sunday afternoon, against a recent Constitutional Court ruling.

High-powered water cannon and crowd control police are also on standby on Ratchadamnoen Klang Road.

Last Wednesday the Constitutional Court ruled that speeches, made by anti-establishment protest leaders Anon Nampa, Ms. Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok last year, amounted to a dishonest exercising of their right to free expression with the aim of overthrowing the country’s constitutional monarchy.

The controversial ruling has caused widespread resentment among student organizations, academics at numerous universities and others, who advocate for reform of the monarchy.

Police said they are ready to block all traffic, from Phan Phiphop Lila Bridge to Ratchadamnoen Nai Road.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

The Young Generation Risking All to Topple the Myanmar Junta

The knife that carved through Gue Gue’s abdomen wasn’t exactly meant for pulling out her inflamed appendix. But it was the only one available in the sweltering jungle clinic, a bumpy ride over mountainous terrain from her guerrilla training camp.

There was no option for general anesthesia to put her under, so Gue Gue was conscious for the operation. The former tour guide, a stylish 26-year-old who listed her interests on Facebook as “Traveling, Adaptive Hiking, Dance, Writing, Gymnastics, Fashion Photography, Listening to Music, and Reading,” tried to keep her mind focused on all the work she had yet to do and not the surgery. “They were cutting the muscle like we are chopping pork,” said a friend who was there.

Gue Gue had no regrets, she said later, except about the jagged red mark left behind. “I really don’t want any scars!” she said, laughing. “After the revolution, I’ll go and remove my scar with a laser.”

Only a few weeks earlier, on an April evening, Gue Gue had slipped out of her family home in Mandalay, an ancient royal city careening into the 21st century, with shiny new malls, snappily dressed students and hipster cafes. Carrying a single change of clothes, she left behind the home where she had lived with her parents as the baby, the youngest daughter, well-loved and comfortable.

She was going to fight the junta, and not just with words.

Since Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, toppling the civilian government, Gue Gue had seen many of her peers killed by troops on the streets of her hometown as they chanted democracy slogans. Hopes that the international community would respond to the military’s mounting brutality with practical action had fizzled. For her, and thousands like her, the only option was force.

“I have family. I have dreams. I have things that I want to achieve. I want to travel. I want to write. I want to study,” Gue Gue said a few weeks before her operation in the jungle, in the first of a series of interviews over several months. Two other people, and video and photo footage shared with Reuters, confirmed the outline and many of the details of her story.

Because she still hasn’t healed from her ad hoc surgery, she hasn’t yet been involved in any fighting. But she says she is ready. “I sacrificed all this and joined this training with only one ambition: that we must win.”

Two faces of the resistance

The men and women rebelling against Myanmar’s junta vow to be the last generation to live under the boot of the country’s military. This, they say, is the “final battle” to root out the army, which has been the most powerful institution in the country since it became an independent nation in 1948. The military has withstood popular uprisings and civil war for decades, including the mass uprising in 1988 that led to the emergence of Aung San Suu Kyi as a human rights icon.

It is a fight that has in a few short months made guerrilla fighters of university lecturers, day laborers, I.T. workers, students and artists and forced countless young men and women into a life on the run.

Some, like Gue Gue, who had never considered herself particularly political until the bloodbath on the streets in the wake of the coup, are in clandestine rebel training camps. Hundreds of armed outfits have popped up across the country, according to an October report by the International Crisis Group, many calling themselves People’s Defense Forces (PDFs). A famous poet formed one. Beauty queens and actresses who were wanted by the authorities for supporting the protests re-emerged on social media in areas controlled by armed groups, posting pictures with rifles slung over their shoulders.

Others, like a skinny 32-year-old librarian named Tayzar San, have been hiding in cities, organizing clandestine demonstrations, funneling money to striking workers and strategizing. A young man who once spent his spare time buried in books – as often Burmese romance novels as nonfiction political tracts – he now lives out of a backpack, moving from apartment to apartment to evade the authorities who have put a $5,600 bounty on his head. By September, he said, he hadn’t seen his wife and daughter in seven months.

The utterly changed worlds of Gue Gue and Tayzar San paint a portrait of sacrifice and resolve in a young Burmese generation who, unlike their parents, grew up in a world of smartphones and greater political freedoms. Many are willing to pay any price, including their lives, to overthrow a junta that they say threatens to take them back to a darker past.

Speaking in October, army chief and coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said the junta, which has vowed to hold elections within two years, was working on a five-point plan to reach a “true union based on democracy and federalism.” He said the leadership was working to “change the country peacefully.” In a message to Reuters responding to detailed questions, the junta’s “True News” information unit said, “We have no plan to answer meaningless questions.”

At stake is the fate of a country of 55 million people that once looked to be on its way to becoming Asia’s newest semi-democratic state, a nation on the crossroads of India and China rich with natural resources, considered a frontier market for foreign investors and a keystone in U.S-led efforts to counter Chinese power in Southeast Asia.

It is one of the bloodiest chapters yet in a decades-long struggle to shrug off a series of military dictators who have waged some of the world’s longest-running civil wars, displaced millions of people and consigned multiple generations to poverty and dashed dreams.

Since Myanmar, then Burma, won independence from colonial Britain seven decades ago, it has known less than 25 years of civilian governance. Successive juntas ruled the country from 1962 until 2011, when Gen. Than Shwe appeared to step back and hand limited powers to a civilian government.

It was a managed process that reserved vast political influence under the constitution for the military. Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been imprisoned in her home for 15 years, was freed to participate in elections and, in 2015, won them.

In the years following, Suu Kyi drew criticism for standing by the military as they carried out what the United Nations termed a genocidal campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Testifying in the Hague, where Myanmar faces charges at the International Criminal Court, she admitted that war crimes may have been committed but denied genocide, saying Rohingya had “exaggerated” the extent of abuses against them.

But her government made some steps toward weakening military power and attracting foreign investment. The Myanmar kyat became Asia’s best-performing currency, and the World Bank was predicting economic growth in the country despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

That all came to an end in the early hours of February 1, when Min Aung Hlaing had Suu Kyi and her leadership arrested and declared a direct return to military rule, sparking mass street protests.

More than 1,200 people are now dead after brutal crackdowns by junta troops, according to the rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, or AAPP, which has been monitoring casualties. Hundreds have also been killed by the resistance, according to the junta and local media reports, with fledgling guerrilla outfits assassinating suspected informers and troops and bombing infrastructure of the regime. Towns and villages across the country, including the formerly peaceful central heartlands, have become battlegrounds between soldiers and resistance fighters.

A group of elected lawmakers was sworn into parliament, remotely, while on the run days after the coup, and a parallel civilian government was formed in April.

In an interview with Reuters in October, junta finance minister Aung Naing Oo said the army was “upholding peace and security despite attempts to escalate violence. … Our security forces have a job to do. They cannot sacrifice the safety of the majority for the violence and destruction of those who wish to destroy Myanmar.” He said the government was working well and “the worst is behind us… we will surely succeed as a united country.”

Longtime activists like Bo Kyi, a co-founder of the AAPP, believe the regime is ripe to be toppled. He spent seven years in prison for his role in the 1988 protests. Back then, there were no mobile phones, no social media or free local media outlets. People were arrested for handing out pamphlets. The uprising was brutally crushed, like every attempt to overthrow the military in its history.

But the new generation at the forefront of the uprising today has grown up in a different world, Bo Bo Kyi said. They have creative ideas and sophisticated political understanding. They are trying to forge unity between the country’s myriad ethnic groups. Smartphones and internet access have made it harder for the military to hide its actions. On social media, acts of brutality go viral in minutes, although internet shutdowns and retaliation by troops on citizen journalists have reduced the quantity of footage getting out.

Nonetheless, citizens have filmed troops looting homes and businesses, taking potshots at protesters and dragging their bodies through the streets. They filmed the tiny body of one of the youngest victims, 6-year-old Khin Myo Chit, blood seeping through her Mickey Mouse shorts as she died in her father’s arms. For the first time, there have been hundreds of defections from the armed forces. Dozens of diplomats stationed at embassies across the world have refused to represent the junta, and it has been unable to gain representation at the U.N.

“All this did not happen before,” Bo Kyi said. “This can be the last fight of the people who have suffered for so long against the military.”

Others fear a descent into further bloodletting and all-out civil war. The People’s Defense Forces, a loose coalition of anti-coup armed groups with only a nascent overarching leadership structure and limited resources, are waging asymmetric warfare against a 300,000-strong military armed by China and Russia.

The librarian

On the morning of the coup, Tayzar San, seeing the internet had been shut down, went out and bought a radio. He was prepared. He had been reading the signs of political strife, and they augured badly. Several days earlier, he had asked in a Facebook post if the country was cursed.

“No matter what, we must overcome it all,” he wrote.

Born in 1988 in a remote village in Myanmar’s Sagaing Division, smack in the center of the country, Tayzar San grew up watching his father covertly listening to radio programs by foreign broadcasters, one of the only sources of reliable news, as the ruling military tightly controlled the local media. His father, a schoolteacher, had taken part in anti-junta protests as a young monk, and their home was filled with books about the country’s politics and history.

Tayzar San developed an early love for reading. His dream was to become a librarian, he said. But he went to study medicine at a university in Mandalay, the nearest major city.

He graduated with a medical degree three years into the military’s reforms. After university, he married Aye Aye Mon, a classmate with a thick black bob and glasses, drawn to her by their shared love of reading. They had a baby girl, Lone Ma Lay. Opportunities were open to him that would have been impossible for his parents’ generation. With friends in Mandalay, he opened a free library. As executive director, he hosted political talks and organized training for civil society groups on democratic institutions, federalism and the country’s complicated peace process.

The morning of Feb. 1, Tayzar San and his friends spontaneously converged on the library. They commiserated. Some wept. “We said we could not let this just happen. We have to do what we can,” he said.

They pulled together a statement from 53 civil society groups, most of them Mandalay-based, condemning the coup. The next day, doctors walked out of government-run hospitals, refusing to work under the military. It was the start of the civil disobedience movement, a country-wide refusal of hundreds of thousands of people to work for the military, from railway workers to immigration officials.

Three days after the coup, Tayzar San and his friends gathered outside the medical university holding signs reading “Protect democracy,” “People’s protest against military rule” and “Respect the people’s votes.” They dispersed quickly, but minutes later police grabbed four of the young men, Tayzar San’s close friends. They were later charged under three sections including a colonial-era law criminalizing causing “public alarm” and face several years in prison.

Their defiance helped set off a wave of protests across the country.

Tayzar San realized he had to split up from his family, in case the military went after him, and, a few days later, said goodbye to his wife and baby daughter. He began to organize daily protests. Often at the front of the crowd and shouting into the megaphone, he cut a distinctive figure with his skinny frame, huge thick-rimmed glasses and broad grin.

On Facebook, where he had quickly grown a massive following, he wrote gentle, encouraging messages, calling on people to take to the streets, “Don’t look for a leader, don’t wait… All the people in the community, please come out.” During interviews he projected an easy calm, as quick to laugh at the military as condemn it.

He came close to arrest more than once. Fleeing a crackdown on a street protest in early March, he took refuge in a hotel but was almost caught when soldiers from the 99th Light Infantry Division surrounded the building. With a small group, he went up to the roof and climbed onto neighboring buildings to escape, balancing on air-conditioning units and clinging to water pipes, even as soldiers opened fire from below, he said later. It was like something out of “the action movies,” he said. He made it to safety after residents hid them in an apartment. Efforts by Reuters to reach the unit’s commander via the military weren’t successful.

By mid-April, a poster was circulating in Mandalay and online advertising a $5,600 reward for Tayzar San’s capture and handover to authorities. He continued to lead demonstrations, but more rarely, appearing every few days and then slipping back into the maze of Mandalay apartments.

Between his constant moves and the internet shutdown, it was hard to reach him. But interviewed over a shaky connection from a safehouse in April, he spoke with the same unwavering optimism of his protest rhetoric, peppering his speech with hopeful aphorisms – “It is never darker than at midnight” – and downplaying the magnitude of his difficulties with giggles.

Asked about how security forces appeared to be targeting him personally, he said: “It is fine. I will do what I have to do. They have tried to put fear in us. … We will just continue what we want to do.”

A week and a half later, he said, security forces turned up outside his home in Mandalay. He was long gone, and his wife and daughter weren’t home. But soldiers and police broke down the locked door and demolished the place, including his book collection.

The jungle

Since its independence from Britain, Myanmar has not known a year of peace. A multitude of armed groups, ranging from powerful organizations controlling semi-autonomous areas in ethnic regions to government-backed militias and traditional people’s armies, have been active for decades.

The military has long justified its power by casting itself as the sole unifying force able to hold the disparate nation together. In recent years, several areas of fighting had subsided. But they flared up again after the coup as some of the most powerful outfits, including the Karen National Union, one of the country’s oldest and biggest ethnic armed groups, expressed solidarity with the protesters and allowed thousands to seek shelter in their territories. Some offered military training.

Some of the new armed outfits emerged from neighborhood security teams formed during the protest crackdowns. They sought to arm themselves in response to attacks, a move justified by the ousted civilian leadership in a March 14 statement that broke with a long tradition of nonviolence made famous by Suu Kyi. The statement called the military a “terrorist organization” and said all citizens had the “right to retaliate in self-defense.” Under detention, Suu Kyi hasn’t commented on the repudiation of nonviolence, but she said she would never go against the will of the people.

The parallel civilian government said it aimed to unite the armed units into a single force, but had limited control over the ground operations. “It’s impractical for us to say to those villages, communities, Defend like that, defend like that,'” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for the government, said in an interview. “We are not there physically.”

Sasa, who fled the capital in the days after the coup, has become a high-profile leader with a millions-strong following on social media. Daily, he posts photos of himself – meeting international officials, or in camouflage from his jungle hideout – along with statements and inspirational messages.

The parallel government is walking a tightrope between domestic and foreign audiences. Democratic nations sympathetic to the anti-coup movement such as Britain and the United States have called for a peaceful solution to the crisis. The parallel government’s call has complicated its diplomatic efforts, the International Crisis Group think tank said in its October report.

The military has termed both the parallel government and the resistance fighters “terrorists” and threatened people who contact them with imprisonment.

In April, after the long overnight bus ride from Mandalay, Gue Gue and her friends were shepherded by their contacts to an old school in a village close to the jungle. They slept on top of school desks while they waited to be taken to what they were told was a nearby training ground. One of the friends, who is also from Mandalay and asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said Gue Gue was the first woman to go for the training there.

“They told me that they don’t accept women, because they haven’t prepared anything,” Gue Gue said. “It will be so tiring,’ they said. I told them: I don’t care whether it is tiring. I must join.'”

From there, they traveled to the training camp, the location of which Reuters is not disclosing for security reasons. Dozens of people were already there, Gue Gue said, and more kept arriving, including several more women. One roomed with Gue Gue and they became close friends. Together, they built up the camp. Even the toilets had to be made from scratch. They drank the water from a local river. Food was bland – mostly boiled rice and instant noodles.

On the phone, she said she realized she had never done anything truly difficult in her life before. “I never dreamed that I would be sleeping in a roofless shelter or using a makeshift toilet,” she said.

In late May, she posted a picture on Facebook. “Even though I am having a rough time out there, I’m still happy and trying my best for my country,” she wrote. “But I do cry sometimes when I miss my friends and family… (PS – the following photo is me sitting on the toilet that I built by my own for the very first time in my life).”

The days were long and tiring. Wake-up was at 4 a.m., followed by 10 laps of the football field, more exercises, a breakfast of instant noodles or rice, and training in military strategy, how to handle guns and how to forage for food in the jungle. It was a test for urbanites used to opening the fridge and tucking into “fancy snacks” at will, her friend said. But the new recruits built up an easy camaraderie, sharing stories of how their lives had been “turned upside down” by the coup, watching sunsets by the river and playing guitar in the evenings.

After her surgery, Gue Gue was in pain and could barely walk, her friend said. She had been charged with managing four groups, a total of 40 people, she said, and given a new title, roughly equivalent to the rank of lieutenant, but she mostly oversaw office and logistical work. Some of her comrades were volunteering to go to the front lines. A friend named Aung said Gue Gue video-called him. She showed him some of the weapons in the camp but lamented that there were so few.

Then, in mid-August, she fell out of contact. Messages and calls from Reuters went unanswered. The internet connection in the region came and went. But fighting between junta troops and PDF forces like hers had intensified. There were reports of dozens of deaths on both sides.


After raiding Tayzar San’s home in Mandalay, troops began, in June, targeting the remote village where he was born, a cluster of about 100 houses in Wetlet township on the plains of the Mu River. It was a quiet and peaceful place where Tayzar San’s relatives had rice farms and banana plantations.

In one raid, more than 100 soldiers pulled up in trucks, arriving first at the farms on the outskirts and detaining five people to use as human shields, local media reported. The troops made them walk in front as they marched into the village, bound for Tayzar San’s parents’ house, the local media reported. One man who tried to run away was shot but survived.

“They came to my village about six times in one week,” Tayzar San said. “They came looking for me.” He said the soldiers took motorbikes from the village and money and clothes from his family’s house but didn’t find his parents, who had also gone into hiding. Talking to him later, he said, his parents told him, “Don’t worry about us, you just continue to do what you’re doing.”

At first, he said, he was wracked with guilt over the raids. But he tried not to let the crackdown dent his defiance. “The villagers are not scared. They run away when the raid happens, but then they come back once they are gone. … We should not be scared of this. This is the true face of the junta. We need to know that and continue our resolution.”

But the isolation was taking a toll. He stopped going out or seeing people beyond a small and trusted circle. It was becoming impossible to attend protests. At one demonstration in June, he tried to disguise himself so as not to attract attention, taking off his trademark glasses and shaving his head. It didn’t work; he was mobbed.

Confined indoors, he spent most of his time on Zoom meetings, speaking to other activists, helping organize protests. When he had time, he said, he listened to songs on his phone, mostly Myanmar traditional folk music heavy on xylophones and gongs.

He longed for his family. “They are so many miles away from me now,” he said quietly in September.

Both of his parents and his wife had survived bouts of COVID-19 in the months since the coup. His wife fell severely ill – she needed an oxygen cylinder and friends struggled to find one. She found one and survived, but Tayzar San said he had to fight the urge to leave his hiding place to be with her.

His daughter, who turned 2 in his absence, was at that stage of babyhood where she was learning new things every day. He was missing it all.

Aye Aye Mon said she and their daughter watched Tayzar San’s video interviews. “My kid says: Daddy is only living inside the TV. Why hasn’t he come out yet? He should come out,'” she said. Aye Aye Mon added: “I don’t blame him at all … I will try to keep myself safe and we will meet again in a better situation.”

Each day has brought more news of arrests. Often, the authorities detained relatives of protest leaders, including children. Tayzar San said he had imagined all the worst possible outcomes.

“The main thing is that we will never calm down or back off in this revolution for any reason,” he said. “I might have to sacrifice my life, my freedom and my family.”

‘Our camp is moving’

After weeks of silence, in early September Gue Gue sent a short message to Reuters. “Currently I am so busy as our camp is moving.” The fighters had heard news that the military was searching for their base and left in a hurry at the end of August.

“The situation has become worse,” she said over the phone a few days later, as the line cut in and out and monsoon rain hammered in the background.

It was painful to leave all they had built behind, she said. The fighters didn’t have enough guns to defend the camp from attack.

“We were kind of scared and can’t wait to fight them back,” Gue Gue’s friend said. “We prepared everything; we said goodbye to our closest friends, just in case I’m killed or something.” Gue Gue’s wound from the surgery has been slow to heal. The doctors told her it was slightly infected. If the situation improved, she said, she would go to a proper hospital to have it looked at. In the meantime, she was taking painkillers.

Two of the people from her training group had been killed in a clash with junta troops, Gue Gue said, while another had his leg amputated. Though she had a gun, she was still waiting to fight because of her injury. Her friend said Gue Gue isn’t likely to go to the front lines until she has recovered.

Like Tayzar San, she worries about sympathy for the anti-coup movement fading or the public being forced into submission as the long fight grinds on. But, like him, she is resolute. When she feels low, she said, she runs in the fields in the rain or listens to music, anthems of peace, freedom and homecoming.

In October, she watched from the camp as people posted pictures on social media of Thadingyut, the festival of lights at which Burmese light candles and lanterns under the full moon and celebrate at pagodas.

“I don’t want the people to forget about the young people who are sacrificing their lives on the ground,” Gue Gue said by phone. “We’re still here.”

Source: Voice of America

2 Bangkok protesters shot, German embassy officials accept rally leaders’ letter

Anti-establishment protest leader Thatchapong Kaedam announced an end of today’s protest at about 7pm (Sunday) after three of their representatives submitted a letter to an official of the German Embassy in Bangkok.

The representatives were met with rousing applause as they left the embassy, after handing over the letter. One of them told the protesters that a German Embassy official had promised to pass their letter to the ambassador.

He also said that, in the letter, the protesters informed the German embassy about the ruling of the Thai Constitutional Court on Wednesday, which coincided with the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights in countries around the world.

Thatchapong then told the protesters to disperse and return home safely.

The Constitutional Court ruled that speeches relating to Thailand’s monarchy, made by three anti-establishment leaders last year, were a dishonest exercise of free expression with an aim to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

Earlier, at least two protesters were shot, in front of the Police General Hospital, as the rally participants were marching from Pathumwan intersection to the German Embassy on Sathorn road.

The two victims, one a 23-year old man and the other 33, were admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Before the 3pm appointed time for protesters to converge at the Democracy Monument, police closed off all access to the area and used empty cargo containers to erect a wall at Sanam Luang, forcing the protest organizers to relocate the protest muster point to Pathumwan intersection.

The protesters, many riding motorcycles, started gathering at about 3pm in front of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, another favourite site for anti-establishment rallies.

At about 4.15pm, protesters hanged and burned effigies of the nine Constitutional Court judges, in protest at the court’s ruling.

At about 4.30 pm, Thatchapong Kaedam, one of the protest leaders, announced that they will march to the German embassy on Sathorn Road, via Ratchaprasong intersection.

Anti-riot police used barriers to block the Rama 1 Road at Chalermpao intersection, to prevent protesters from marching toward Ratchaprasong intersection. The protesters were forced to use other routes to the German embassy.

More crowd control police were deployed at the Lumpini intersection to try to block the protesters, but to no avail.

At about 6.25pm, leader of the “United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration”, read the content of the letter to the protesters gathered outside the embassy, before the letter was accepted by an embassy official.

“We are here to protect Thai politics under a democratic system with the King as the head of state. Any authorities who try to obstruct us will be regarded as rebels,” announced Thatchapong.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service

New Thai education law will kill kids’ creativity, warn critics

Two key education bills have sailed through the first reading in the House of Representatives, despite warnings that both will seriously damage the quality of Thai education.

Among those worried is prominent educator Dr Sompong Jitradub, who says the National Educational Bill and the Learning Promotion Bill are “outdated” and do not represent much-needed educational reform.

“Today’s youngsters enjoy freedom, independence, democracy, diversity, and active citizenship. But these two draft laws appear to promote centralization, dictating what children must do at each stage of their lives,” said Sompong, an education lecturer at Chulalongkorn University.

He was speaking after 435 out of the total 500 MPs approved both draft laws in principle on November 9. An ad-hoc committee is now reviewing the bills.

Setting up obstacles to learning?

Sompong says the bills focus on children’s duties and obligations, rather than guiding and encouraging them to explore.

For instance, the new legislation dictates that students aged from six to 12 learn about their rights and duties; pride in their nation, religion, monarchy and constitutional monarchy; the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy; planning for their future; and also become smart in math, science, technology, computers, Thai and foreign languages, culture and history. They are also expected to start exploring career choices at this age.

Sompong believes the bills are designed to control children from an early age, teaching them skills/capabilities based on the state’s wants and needs. He says the process would be like “growing youngsters in a bottle” chosen by the government.

Though some argue that children have enough space for freedom, the Chula academic says an environment shaped by these new laws will only limit children’s curiosity and freedom.

Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, an MP and spokesman for the opposition Move Forward Party, agrees that the draft bills are aimed at establishing greater state control over young minds.

“There is no flexibility. Both teachers and children will be expected to do what the state wants,” he said.

The new legislation is being pushed at a time of increased pressure for national reform from the student-led anti-establishment movement.

Other flaws

Sompong singled out the National Education Bill for criticism, saying it offered no benefits for Thailand’s more than 10 million children.

The bill will barely touch the structure of the Education Ministry, which he identified as the root of Thailand’s many educational problems.

“Structural issues eat up most of the country’s educational budget,” Sompong said. “If we are going to stage reform, these issues must be addressed.”

He believes drafters of the law avoided tackling key structural issues over the fear of opposition from teachers.

“This draft law ignores big issues like quality of education, inequalities, and efficient use of resources,” Sompong continued.

He added that the law places far too much emphasis on training children for the labour market to boost the country’s competitiveness.

Thailand’s educational sector would take a step back if the bills became law, he warned.

Wiroj, meanwhile, pointed out that the bills fail to address important principles like freedom, rights and human dignity.


While Sompong pointed to many failings, he also recognized that the National Educational Bill would establish a curriculum development institute.

“If this institute is set up, then the curriculum will truly be respected. Textbooks will no longer just be paper tigers,” he said.

He also likes the idea of establishing a National Educational Policy Committee chaired by the prime minister.

Yet he feels there are not enough positives to promote much-needed reform of Thai education.

“These [positive] things will only achieve about 30 percent of what proper educational reform can do,” he said.

What a supporter says

Atthaphon Sangkhawasee, secretary-general of the Education Council, defends the bill as practical and conducive to lifelong learning.

“Unlike the 1999 National Education Act, this bill focuses on learners’ capabilities and encourages children to see the direction their learning activities will take,” he said.

He explained that what children learn at each phase of their lives will give them an idea of what they can do for a living with the knowledge they have acquired. For instance, if a child drops out at Pathom 4, he or she will still know what to do to earn a living.

“We will also prepare secondary laws to support this new education law once it is enacted,” he said.

The secondary laws will mean students have data on what careers are available to them.

“Once the new educational law comes into effect, the National Education Policy Committee will shape the direction Thailand’s education sector takes. Funds allocated to education will be used more efficiently then, Atthaphon said.

He added that the new education law focuses not just on academic knowledge and theory, but also on life skills to ensure every student grows up to become a well-rounded human.

“We will integrate religion, art, culture and sports into the curriculum. With religious knowledge, students can become more disciplined and ethical,” he said. “With sports, they will be healthy, and with cultural knowledge, they will know about their roots, etc.”

He added that these well-rounded humans will grow up to become “quality people”.

Moreover, he said, the National Education Bill encourages lifelong learning. For instance, those who drop out at Mathayom 2 can return to school from this level instead of having to start all over again from Mathayom 1.

The draft law will also require state agencies to support schools in delivering educational services. This way, the education burden will not lie with schools alone, said Atthaphon.

And schools will not just get a flat rate of subsidies, but also extra help to fund infrastructure and learning materials.

Atthapon added teachers’ performance evaluation methods will also change to ensure they focus more on their students than on their own evaluations.

“The new method will focus on teaching efficiently,” he said.

Addressing criticism that the National Education Bill is outdated, Atthapon only said it was designed in line with the country’s 20-year national strategy and education-reform plan.

“I dare say children who benefit from this new educational law will show more creativity overall than the previous generation,” he added.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service