On May 22nd, the Thai army announced on TV to have taken control of the country “in order to restore a normal situation “, due to the talks between the various political movements fail to reach any decision. As from now on, TV will only broadcast information disseminated by the army and foreign channels have been blocked in the country. Public channel Thai Public Broadcasting Service (TPBS), which tried to maintain its programs via Youtube, has been shut down by the military which arrested one of its leaders.
In fact, on May 21st, 4 TV channels (including TV and Voice Hot TV) and six community radio stations had been added to the list of 10 channels previously closed by the military. No live broadcast can thus happen for political debates.
The announcement of army taking over comes two days after the introduction of the martial law in the country. On May 20th, the army had imposed the closure of a dozen media in the capital city. Soldiers stormed the offices of at least ten television channels, and ordered the programs to be stopped “to prevent circulation of false information.”
The military coup people who took over ordered to censor social networks, threatening them to be close if they release “distorted information or information that can generate misunderstandings or fuel conflict.” In collaboration with the ” Command peace and order ” (POMC), newly created by the military, the National Broadcasting Commission and Telecommunications (NBTC ) instance suggested Internet service providers (ISP) to come together to form a Web censorship group. Of course, NBTC restated that only messages that affect the public order and peace would be censored to prevent the violation of fundamental freedoms.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was ” outraged by the takeover of the media, whose now revealed goal, was only to mislead the public and facilitate its coup” as mentioned by Benjamin Ismail , head of RSF Asia-Pacific office. He also added: “After forcing television stations to broadcast their news releases by ensuring that they did not intend to assume power, the military is now trying to silence any dissent, stifling independent reporting and critical reviews in the press and on the Internet. We call for the immediate cessation of the policy of censorship and the withdrawal of all draconian measures introduced since May 20th“.
The Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcating Journalists Association, the National Press Council of Thailand and the News Broadcasting Council of Thailand which all include media representatives, issued a press release calling the POMC to reconsider its censorship orders. These associations also urged journalists to be cautious and to take their responsibility in their events coverage.
Thailand ranks 130th out of 180 countries in the world ranking of press freedom established by RSF in 2014.
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