Land of smoke and mirrors

5 05 2010

Justin Alick has a piece available at Austria’s FM4 web site on media and censorship in Thailand related to the 10 April events, with several pictures. Worth reading for its perspective on these events, including the red shirt confrontation with hospital authorities at that time.

The protesters then, fearing that the government might again be able to claim “no deaths” – as they had in April 2009. Alick then reports on the changing “story” of the Battle for Bangkok. He tells of how the “official story” of the events had to change as “recorded images and videos of the massacre … began to flood the internet…”.

Alick refers to the failure to – until Abhisit Vejjajiva’s recent offer of an early election – the failure to consider an  independent investigation into the events. He adds: “Thailand is many things, but a bastion of transparency it is not. The modern Thai state was born out of an unsolved murder over sixty years old, which still cannot safely be spoken or written about from within the country…”.

On this, he says:  “I have witnessed history being written and then unwritten before my very eyes. I have taken part in events that never officially happened. I have seen footage of protesters being shot or beaten by soldiers disappear behind censorship notices, later denied by authorities as ever having actually existed. This is a country where internet speeds have been reduced to a crawl due to the sheer volume of web sites being blocked, where people who speak their minds get put away with murderers and rapists.” The latter comment is about lese majeste.

Alick refers to “another war going on in Thailand, fought not with machine guns or grenades or even sticks or stones- but with camera phones, an internet connection, and a good proxy server.” It is, he asserts, “a war over what will and will not be in tomorrow’s newspapers, television shows, and history books, setting those who expose the uncomfortable truths about Thailand against those who wish to cover them up. It is nothing less than a war over reality itself – over what is truth and what is lies; what is real and what isn’t.” He notices that the “most potent weapon … is censorship…”.

The current Abhisit Vejjajiva government has used this weapon “with great enthusiasm…”. He again refers to lese majeste and adds the Computer Crimes Act as a second potent weapon. Others are the Internal Security Act, the Emergency Decree, and threats by the security apparatus, noting the recent case of the Student Federation of Thailand whose leaders were summoned to appear before the military. Alick points out that these students were amongst many who have been summarily told to appear to face unspecified charges.

Read the whole article.