Updated: NYT on Chiranuch’s case

2 11 2010

The New York Times has a story on Chiranuch Premchaiporn‘s situation, with the attention-grabbing headline “Fighting for Press Freedom in Thailand.” Most of the details will already be known to regular PPT readers. However, a couple of issues can be reiterated.

First, Chiranuch states that when she was arrested: “I began to feel victimized, and I hate that…. When you are arrested it shows that you have a lack of power. I felt I was too weak for them, and I was an easy target. I don’t like to be an easy target.” In fact, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime selects “easy targets,” but also appears to be selective about making these arrests and charges have broad political impact. That is why they are victimizing Chiranuch and Prachatai.

Second, the NYT makes an important point for the broader international media when it states: “Ms. Chiranuch’s case has become a rallying cry for opponents of Mr. Abhisit’s campaign of censorship and has drawn criticism from human rights and free speech advocacy groups abroad.” It is important to emphasize that it is Abhisit who is responsible for the “campaign of censorship” and the broader based repression of his political opposition. He may be a pawn being moved by higher up players, but he is personally invested, personally angry at his opponents and personally responsible for the actions of his government and its security forces. The international media needs to specifically condemn Abhisit’s authoritarianism.

Third, Ubonrat Siriyuwasak, a media scholar recently retired from Chulalongkorn University is cited. She says:  “At first glance it looks to a lot of people as if there is still freedom of the press…. But if we take a closer look, we have to conclude that this is a serious situation because opposition opinion has been in a sense wiped out or must go underground.” That point should be emphasized. This regime has, as the NYT points out, dragged Thailand back to a dark ages of censorship and repression.

Finally, Chiranuch says: “Even if I quit [at Prachatai], the threat would not stop. The process continues.” That process is the censorship and repression that the current regime maintains and deepens by the day. The brave few who openly and trenchantly oppose it deserve international support while Abhisit and his government deserve condemnation.

Update: Bangkok Pundit has an excellent commentary on this story.


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