With 2 updates: More and more censorship

10 09 2010

PPT is not surprised to see the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime continuing its determined bid to repress as much red shirt media as possible. The latest case involves the recently relaunched Red Power magazine, put out by Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, a red-shirt activist with the 24 June Democracy group.

In a throwback to the times of military despotism, the Nonthaburi Provincial Governor seems to have personally “led police to seize copies of  and halt the printing presses of a company hired to print the magazine.”

Prachatai reports that the story hit the ASTV-Manager, which says that on 9 September, “police used a search warrant from the Nonthaburi Provincial Court to conduct a search of the Golden Power Printing Co at Soi Ngamwongwan 27 in Nonthaburi, which had been hired to print Red Power magazine. The police seized printed materials related to the magazine, and ordered the stoppage of 11 printing machines, which could not be moved but could be used to print other publications. Copies of some books were also seized. The police said that the company ran the printing business without permission, violating the Factory Act.”

It seems that the previous day, Governor Wichean Phutthiwinyu, using the authority provided to him by the “Emergency Decree, led a team of police and officials to search the company, and seized a quantity of unusable printed pages of Red Power magazine, employee records and other documents. Some employees were investigated, and the company was ordered to stop printing the magazine.”

Emergency decree used to stop printers

It is worth noting that Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban had earlier specifically mentioned Red Power as a potential target for closure. On 1 September he stated that, “This [threat] is not media intimidation. The CRES [Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations] has discussed print media which claims to be mass media. But its content is not normal information. It incites hatred and anger among people, and aims to cause rifts. So the CRES has considered this and ordered legal action against it. I understand that it’s called Red Power or something.”

The fear of red shirt media is great amongst the elite backing Abhisit and his government. They do not want “sensitive” topics discussed at all – monarchy, corruption, military venality – so like the dictators of the past, they attack media and even printers.

Update 1: Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation also comments on this state raid on opposition media. He says there are now “at least four [red shirt] publications now available in some parts of Bangkok and beyond. However, the government appears determined to suppress them, or at least stifle the most vocal ones.”

Following the raid led by the Nonthaburi Governor, Pravit says that  Somyos has gone into hiding after learning that “some 10 plainclothes police officers keeping an eye out for him.” CRES warned “the publishers of Red Power might be guilty of defaming the royal institution, though no evidence has been produced so far.” But it’s always the bottom line for the royalist regime.

Mahaprachachon (from 2Bangkok.com)

Pravit refers to other red shirt publications: People’s Channel weekly, launched in August, and the recent  Mahaprachachon Sudsapda (The Great Mass of People Weekender), with Veera Musigapong as its adviser, and seemingly a”reincarnation of the Truth Today weekly magazine, now trumpeting ‘peace and non-violence’ in order to thwart possible censorship.”

Apparently, many “bookshops and newsagents are refusing to carry red-shirt titles either out of fear of upsetting the authorities or because of their anti-red stance.” Pravit then makes an interesting point:  “As a clear sign of the great political divide between the rich and poor, most of these red-shirt publications are found in the periphery or the poorer parts of the capital. There is only one bookshop in the Siam Square area known to this writer that dares carry these magazines and newspapers.”

He refers to a “culture of censorship” in much of the mainstream media and adds: “Thailand is steadily becoming ‘a censored society’ where some trains of thought can be illegal, or even a crime, making speaking about certain taboo topics an exercise in political courage. Censorship is prevalent in societies that cannot deal with differences openly and peacefully. If those in power can’t accept your views, they try to shut you up. If you refuse to shut up, then you end up in jail either over charges of violating the emergency decree, the lese majeste law or the computer crime law. In extreme cases, you can die just like the red-shirt protesters did earlier this year. Killing can be a form of censorship too, you know.”

Well said Khun Pravit.

Update 2: 2Bangkok.com has more recent red shirt publications here.


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