Thailand - State of emergency used to censor pro-opposition media



    MONTREAL, April 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders deplores the
censorship, closure and banning of many media linked to the opposition United
Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) since the UDD's violent
"red-shirt" demonstrations in Bangkok on 13 April.
    The authorities have raided community radio stations in the north and
east of the country under a state of emergency. And Internet Service Providers
have been ordered to censor at least 67 websites linked to the UDD, which
supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
    "We firmly condemn the violence by UDD supporters but we also deplore the
reprisals which the authorities have taken against media linked to this
movement," Reporters Without Borders said. "If calls for violence have been
made in these media, they must be punished by the courts and not in an
arbitrary fashion by the police."
    The press freedom organisation added: "Such actions by the authorities
cast doubt on the desire to 'reconcile the different political parties'
professed by the government when it took office. We call for the lifting of
the state of emergency, which just blocks access to news and information and
encourages a climate of fear."
    A spokesman for the ruling Democrat Party said the radio stations were
closed for "inciting violence." The UDD's leaders meanwhile accused the main
news media of lacking independence and of "demonising" their movement.
    Several TV crews were roughed up by "red-shirts" during the first few
days of the UDD demonstrations. In one case, demonstrators forced the
state-run NBT TV to suspend operations in the north-east by besieging its
studios.
    A newly-created English-language website
(http://redshirtreport.wordpress.com/) is using material from various Thai
news outlets to denounce alleged cases of disinformation about the UDD
demonstrations.
    In the weeks that followed the coup that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra in
2006, the authorities closed hundreds of community radio stations deemed to be
pro-Thaksin.
    See a list of websites that have been censored by the information
ministry since 18 April: http://thainetizen.org/node/536




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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