Covid-19 Curfew Arrests of Thailand’s Homeless

How can people “stay at home” if they are homeless?

Police arrested Tui, a homeless man in the city of Chiang Mai, on April 5 for violating the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew the Thai government imposed as an emergency measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

After police found him “wandering on the streets without permission from authorities or necessary reasons,” the Chiang Mai court sentenced Tui to 15 days in jail, which was suspended, and a fine of 1,500 baht (US$46). The judge decided not to put Tui in a three-day detention in lieu of paying the fine, which he could not afford.

The judge then ordered Tui, who usually slept on the floor of a local wet market, not to repeat the offense and not to leave home for seven days. Tui told me that he did not see how he could accomplish that: “I will just have to hide, hoping police don’t see me on the streets at night again.”

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Sunai Phasuk