A broadcast journalist from Thailand’s Channel 7 has been subject to intimidating emails circulated by allegedly members of the Red-shirt movement, prompting concerned journalists to raise the issue to the newly formed administration of Yingluck Shinawatra.
The Bangkok Post reported on 26 August that a group of journalists covering the parliament submitted an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for attention to the “hate campaign”, consisting of emails carrying a photo of the Channel 7 journalist, who recently conducted an interview with Prime Minister Yingluck. The message in the emails criticized the journalist’s interview and called for readers to “Remember her face”, and “Take care of her when you see her”.
The Red-shirts were also reported to have intimidated a journalist from China’s national TV station, the CCTV. The movement’s members prevented her from reporting their rally because she showed up at the venue in a yellow outfit.
The polarisation of Thai politics in the last five years has caught the Thai media in the middle of conflicts. Physical threats and hate speech against the media were widely committed by both the Redshirts and the pro-monarchy Yellow-shirts.
However the former, which makes up a significant base for the Puea Thai Party and helped brought Yingluck’s administration into power in July, is known to have more testy episodes with the Thai media during their rallies in 2010 against the previous administration led by the Democrats Party. One of their accusations was that the Thai media reported in favor of the previous administration of Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Yesterday, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, The News Broadcasting Council of Thailand and Thai Journalists Association issued a joint statement condemning the action as a threat to media freedom and undermining journalistic works.
The groups urged all parties to respect the role of the media in getting truth and that they should not regard the media as a party to any conflict.
“Therefore, the media should not be a target of threats, intimidation and interference by any party,” the statement said. “Without freedom of the media and its independence in reporting, the public access to information and facts will be deprived accordingly.”
They also urged opposing parties to exercise their rights and opinions in accordance with Article 28 of the Thai Constitution and not trampling on the rights of those who hold differing views.
SEAPA (http://www.seapabkk.org/) is the only regional organization with the specific mandate of promoting and protecting press freedom in Southeast Asia. It is composed of the Jakarta-based Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information (ISAI); the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom andResponsibility (CMFR) and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ); the Bangkok-based Thai Journalists Association (TJA); and the network’s Kuala Lumpur-based associate member, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ). SEAPA also has partners in Cambodia, East Timor, and exiled Burmese media, and undertakes projects and programs for press freedom throughout the region.
For inquiries, please contact us at: seapa [at] seapa [dot] org or call +662 243 5579.