Media censorship

23 07 2016

As we noted in our previous post, we noted that the Bangkok Post wrote that the military junta had decided to “allow debates on the draft constitution in all provinces ahead of the Aug 7 referendum, bowing to pressure for calls for open talks.”

It seems unlikely that the junta has bowed to anyone. Rather, the junta’s plans are to force through a Yes vote by all means necessary and then claim legitimacy. This involves carefully delimited “debate” including only trusted participants while ruthlessly suppressing opposition voices.

The most recent examples of blocking discussion and debate include banning the distribution of the most recent print edition of The Economist for a long story on the monarchy and politics. (As we understand it, the online version of the story remains available in Thailand.)

A second example is the 30-day closure of Peace TV. The ban by the Communication Authority of Thailand is for “allegedly disseminating content threatening national security.”

The closure is reportedly based on “three TV programmes which allegedly carried content that breached NCPO [junta] Announcements No. 97/2014 and 103/2014, which prohibit dissemination of content that instigates violence and misleads the public.”

Because Thailand is a military dictatorship, the authorities had no need to disclose what content was chosen by them (or, rather, the junta) as somehow threatening the nebulous concept of “national security.”

We assume that “national security” is defined minimally as anything the military junta doesn’t like. In any case, this is no more than a ruse to close the station as the country moves to vote in an illegitimate referendum on the military’s draft charter.

The blackout of the red shirt-aligned Peace TV began at one minute past midnight on 22 July.

Jatuporn Promphan of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship “said that the station will sue the CAT for 6.3 million baht as compensation…” and “petitioned the Administrative Court to hold an urgent hearing to provide the station with legal immunity.”

Jatuporn also explained that:

the junta has made various attempts to shut down Peace TV since the station became a public space for those who oppose the junta-sponsored draft charter, further adding that the blackout will intensify dissatisfaction against the junta itself. He also rejected the allegation that Peace TV disseminated content threatening national security and condemned the junta for abuse of power….

In fact, the move by the junta is not an abuse of power as much as a demonstration of its basic nature. This is how dictatorial regimes behave.


Actions

Information