Crisis in Thailand Leads to Net Crackdown, Censorship

    by Clothilde Le Coz
    June 3, 2010
    Image of Red Shirt protestors by Nate Robert via Flickr

    At least 80 people were killed during the latest clashes in Thailand. But the confusion and danger that are present in various parts of Bangkok do not explain why several Thai and foreign journalists have been shot since April. Two are dead. The tense political situation also doesn’t justify the leadership’s blocking of more than 4,000 anti-monarchy websites.

    As we at Reporters Without Borders recently stated in regards to the Thai government’s actions, “The right to information is more important than ever when a country is in crisis.” Yet several reporters have been gunned down and the Internet is falling prey to censorship. So far, around 4,500 websites have been blocked in an attempt by the regime to institute partial censorship of news about the nine-week crisis. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Twitter account has also been blocked since May 19.

    On that same day, the leadership’s Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) blocked Facebook and Twitter, which had been functioning as alternative sources of news after TV stations began broadcasting government-controlled programming. Also that day, the Bangkok headquarters of Channel 3 was set on fire by anti-government protesters, and the two biggest English-speaking dailies, the Bangkok Post and the Nation, sent their employees home at 3 p.m. due to fears that their offices could be attacked by Red Shirts. At this point, almost all local journalists avoid going into the streets to cover the situation because of concerns about the risks.


    Gathering Info in a Tough Environment

    Journalists have been gathering information via social networks, the telephone, and from people trapped in the Wat Pathum Wanaram temple. (It adjoins the square where the Red Shirt protestors had gathered.) Only a few foreign reporters are still on the ground. Here is a video interview with Italian photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi in which he explains the varying treatment of local and foreign reporters:

    Sadly, Polenghi died on May 19 during the army’s assault on the Red Shirts in Bangkok.


    As of today, two reporters have been killed and several injured since mid-March. In testimonies obtained by Reporters Without Borders, foreign journalists also reported feeling targeted. Arnaud Dubus, a reporter for the French daily Libération and for Radio France Internationale, told us, “This is the first time in Thailand that I feel that foreign journalists are really targeted.”

    The Geneva Convention forbids journalists from being military targets. Thailand was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council on May 15, and now it is violating humanitarian and international law principles.

    Online Crackdown Goes On

    Blocking Twitter and Facebook is nothing new for Thai authorities. Since at least 2009, this has been a regular practice among the Thai police. So far, one blogger, Suwicha Thakor, has been jailed for his online activities. In April of last year, he was given a 10-year jail sentence by a criminal court in the northeast Bangkok district of Ratchada. This was for posting content online that was deemed to have insulted the monarchy. Thakor has been held in Bangkok’s Klong Prem prison since January 14.

    One challenge is that the Internet is not well regulated in Thailand. The country’s Computer Crimes Act, which was adopted in 2007, is too vague. That means the ongoing trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the editor of the Prachatai news website, could create a legal precedent. She is facing up to 50 years in prison for failing to act with sufficient speed to remove “offensive” comments about the monarchy that were posted on the site.

    Arrested on March 31, Chiranuch was released after three hours when her sister guaranteed the 300,000 bahts (6,000 euros) in bail demanded by the judicial authorities.

    “In normal times I would be more confident about this initial hearing,” she told Reporters Without Borders. “I hope the court will make allowance.”

    Under the Computer Crimes Act, owners and editors of websites can be prosecuted when they publish comments that are deemed to have broken the law. The owners are regarded as being as responsible as the commenters themselves.

    Chiranuch’s website, as well as its Facebook page and Twitter account, has repeatedly been blocked by the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation since the start of Thailand’s political crisis. The Prachatai news website was founded in 2004 — when the now deposed Thaksin Shinawatra was still prime minister — with the aim of being an alternative source of news. Its news section receives more than 20,000 visitors a day, while its forum receives about 30,000.

    The harassment of netizens is widely spread and does not stop at Thai borders. In 2006, Anthony Chai, an American citizen from California, was interrogated by Thai officials in Thailand and again later in the U.S. for allegedly insulting the monarchy in 2006. Originally from Thailand, Chai was granted U.S. citizenship in the late 1970s. He faces possible arrest if he returns to Thailand. “What if now the U.S. is allowing a U.S. citizen to be interrogated by foreign agents on U.S. soil?” he said. You can read more about Chai’s case here.

    (For more on Thailand and other countries’ “lese majeste” laws against insulting the monarchy, see this previous story on MediaShift.)

    Clothilde Le Coz has been working for Reporters Without Borders in Paris since 2007. She is now the Washington director for this organization, helping to promote press freedom and free speech around the world. In Paris, she was in charge of the Internet Freedom desk and worked especially on China, Iran, Egypt and Thailand. During the time she spent in Paris, she was also updating the “Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents,” published in 2005. Her role is now to get the message out for readers and politicians to be aware of the constant threat journalists are submitted to in many countries.

    Tagged: bangkok censorship facebook red shirts suwicha thakor thailand twitter

    41 responses to “Crisis in Thailand Leads to Net Crackdown, Censorship”

    1. Peter says:

      …over 50,000 websites are presently being blocked by Thailand’s military-controlled government as well as almost all opposition newspapers and television and radio as they desperately try to contain and shape the narrative of 100 people (almost all unarmed and including 2 international journalists and a few medics) having been gunned down by Thai Army snipers and almost 2,000 wounded…..in addition a number of website managers and misc. others have been arrested and are either on trial, awaiting trial or already in prison, some sentenced to more than ten years, for expressing their opinions and thoughts…..

    2. Thailand questioner says:

      refer to “the Bangkok headquarters of Channel 3 was set on fire by anti-government protesters.”

      ARE you sure that are real protesters ? Men in Black supposed to be government supporters. Why CTW was the targeted? , not be intercontinental Hotel which belong to Government’s member.
      After red leader surrender and also soldier already control that area , Central world was fired at least twice.

    3. MC says:

      How did you know? Its the top secrete.

    4. Josh says:

      You say that in testimonies obtained by Reporters Without Borders, foreign journalists also reported feeling targeted. Arnaud Dubus, a reporter for the French daily Libération and for Radio France Internationale, told us, “This is the first time in Thailand that I feel that foreign journalists are really targeted.”

      Can you expand on these testimonies, in particular were they feeling targeted by the military or by the red shirts, or both?

      From what I gather, a lot of incidents involved attacks from red shirt protesters. While there is no conclusive evidence on who fired gun shots at journalists (ie. could have been the army or redshirt paramilitary), there is a confirmed incident of a foreign journalist injured by a red shirt M79 grenade attack.

      Also, on May 19th, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) sent out a warning message via their twitter (http://twitter.com/FCCThai) which reads:

      “There are numerous reports that foreign and Thai journalists are being targeted by some elements in the red shirts.”

      Human Rights Watch also documented some violent attacks by red shirts on Thai media as follows:

      “Some UDD leaders and protesters have reacted aggressively towards Thai reporters who criticized their protest or exposed their acts of violence and abuses. On April 11, reporters were pressured to leave the protest site at Phan Fa Bridge. On the same day, mobile broadcast vans of Modern Nine TV and TPBS TV were seized by red-shirted protesters at the Thaicome satellite office in Pathumthani province. The UDD protesters have targeted the government’s NBT TV for protests, including by attacking the NBT TV headquarters in Bangkok and its provincial offices with M79 grenades. UDD protesters attacked the headquarters of Channel 5 TV in Bangkok with M67 hand grenades.”

    5. josh says:

      “Thailand questioner” above doubts whether Channel 3 and Central World was burnt down by red shirts.

      Firstly, Central World is owned by the Chirathivats of Central Group, and this family are supporters of the Democrats.

      Secondly, a British red shirt from Pattaya was caught on tape, admitting to planning to burn down and loot Central World. Please see:

      This red shirt also admitted to the group’s burning of Channel 3 in his interview with the press. Here are some of the things he said:

      “I did not do any looting. I did not set fire to anything, but those who did are my brothers. I am not worthy of them.”

      “The attack on Channel 3 was organized. I saw the leaders giving directions. The Red Shirts hated Channel 3. There was a BMW showroom next door which was totally untouched.”

      “My friends are professionals. Some of them are ex-police and ex-army. They know exactly what they are doing…. The war is over for the time being. Now everybody is looking for red-shirts. But in two months time things will start up again. The attacks will begin”.


    6. Lolo says:

      Sometimes I don’t understand these free speech advocates. The violence by the Red shirts that we have seen here in Bangkok this year and last year, much of it has to do with the propaganda, hate speeches and direct incitement to violence by Red shirt leaders through their red media.

      Many observers say Thailand is coming close to civil war and yet the government is suppose to let those crazy demagogues continue to instill hatred and urge violent rebellion?

      Look at the below videos, it has some examples of red shirt leaders inciting their followers broadcasted through red media to:
      1) arm themselves with weapons to attack security forces; 2) seize buses and drive them into the security forces; 3) commit acts of arson.

      Red shirt leaders also incite their followers to loot and destroy department stores, again these messages are broadcasted and spread through the red media channels.

      For example, Human Rights Watched documented that: “UDD leader Nathawut Saikua continued to publicly urge the protesters at Ratchaprasong intersection to loot and destroy high-end shopping malls in that area. On April 8, for example, he told the protesters at the Ratchaprasong intersection that, “We, the UDD, are poor and rural people. We can easily get panicked, especially when the soldiers charge in. When we are panicked, we will smash glass windows of these luxurious shopping malls and run amok inside … and when we are inside we can freely pick up brand-name bags or other expensive goods … You should actually start thinking what do you want for yourself or your friends if you get panicked and go inside those shopping malls.”


      In another incident some time ago, red shirt community radio in Udon Thani was used to incite listeners to join up in the violent mob who armed themselves with knives, axes, swords and machetes to attack a peaceful rally of an opposing group.

      The incident has been documented here:

      The government should prevent these red media from instilling hatred and hypnotizing their followers into thinking that violence is acceptable and can be carried out against its opponents. This is wrong and the red media must be controlled for the sake of public interest.

    7. lolo says:

      Also, anyone, NGOs included, trying to paint the Thai military as some evil killing machine should be ashamed unless you have in your possession some really hard evidence.

      Prof. Desmond Ball thinks that the military operations against the Red Shirts were conducted professionally. He teaches at ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He is a highly regarded expert on military and security affairs and has published over 60 books on nuclear strategy and defence and security in the Asia-Pacific region including “The Boys in Black: The Thahan Phran (Rangers), Thailand’s Para-military Border Guards” (White Lotus, Bangkok, 2004).

      In an interview, he said: “Let me say that I’m not a person who normally supports army crackdowns of protesters. My sort of basic philosophy normally starts off from the other side, supporting protesters against army and security crackdowns. But in this case I think that the security authorities including both the police and the army acted by and large very professionally. I’m not sure whether I can see what other choices that they had , they had to finally move that Red Shirt encampment in that central business area of Bangkok. They did it in ways which I think really minimized the violence compared to what it could have been, we could have seen fatalities in the hundreds if they hadn’t been organized properly and conducted properly…..”

      You can see his full interview at the link below. He discusses lots of issues including who the “black shirts” are and the assassination of Seh Daeng. The quoted part above appears at around 11.30 minute mark.

    8. Republican Senator says:

      Let’s talk facts: More than 85 civilians died and more than 1800 were injured during the bloody crackdown by Thai pro-elite/royalist military troops who supported the monarchy just like Privy Councilor and Mr. Abhisit who are just simply royalist puppets who had never been elected by their people but were appointed by the royalist court and the king. Let’s not forget that in Thailand, you got an aristocratic king as a head of state and as a head of Thai armed force and that article # 3 of the Thai laws actually gives the king and his elites absolute power and control of the National Assembly, nation’s constitutions, Thai politics, Thai judicial system and even approving fascist-style lese majeste law. You essentially have the elite aristocrats like the king with absolute power who exercise his sovereign power over the Thai people as well as controlling and censoring the Thai media. How can the Thai people exercise their power through democratic processes especially when they were oppressed by the King’s military troops and by the lese majeste law which violates freedom of speech? How can you have democracy in Thailand under a dictatorial-feudalistic ruling system established by an undemocratic king???

    9. Republican Senator says:

      Who cares if Mr. Thaksin was paying for pro-democracy protest against an unelected illegal Abhisit’s government? Most Thai people still wanted democracy and they wanted democratic election and democratic reforms. Why is it so hard for many of you to accept these reasonable demands by redshirts and avoid the bloodsheds? Is it because you people are one of the elites who opposes democracy? Many of you really sound like a yellow-shirt royalist hired by the king or Abhisit’s government.

      Mr. Thaksin was ousted because he was charged by lese majeste many times which is the medieval’s legalized harrassment that still exist in Thailand and it is also because Mr. Thaksin wasn’t practicing the king’s unpopular economic sufficiency in the upcountry. Many poor people love Mr. Thaksin’s policy on investing a lot or putting more credits and spending more on developments in the upcountry and rural areas as well as his health care plan for the poor Thais but they don’t like the king’s philosophy or economic sufficiency system because it limits the investments and spendings for the developments in the upcountry and it does not improve the poor people’s life much. The problem with king’s economic sufficiency system is that it is based on buddhism view of the world such as doing everything moderately but the problem is when this philosophy is used as an economic system to develope the nation because not everyone can afford to do business moderately especially the poor people in the upcountry since they are already poor. The poor people had to invest or do business more than the rich people in order to make profit so they cannot do it moderately. It is risky and dangerous when using a religious philosophy as an economic system for the nation because it might not develope the nation to the fullest.

      Mr. Thaksin was also a competitor or a rival in doing business against the royalist institutions and he became very popular so the royalists wanted to eliminate him by either assassinating him or ousting him from Thailand. The yellow shirt royalists with the help of the Thai royalist court would also play “double standard” by accusing Mr. Thaksin of doing corruption and now he is charged as a Terrorist like Osama Bin Laden. The accusations by the Abhisit’s government is an absolute joke and we cannot take it seriously. The royalist court totally ignored the corruptions by Thai elites and Thai military and they failed to punish yellow shirts for the destruction of Thai economy by blocking international airports and hijacking Samak’s government by occupying government’s compound and breaking into TV broadcast stations and the beating of innocent journalists. Why did the Thai court ignored these? And who is behind them?

      As a result, Mr. Thaksin was ousted from playing Thai politics as well as his TRT party and other political parties which are allied to him or having same political ideas. Anyone who opposes monarchy, aristocrats, elites, military would be eliminate so Thailand is becoming like North Korea with no opposition in the parliament. How can this be a democratic nation with a valid parliamentary system once you have no opposition in the parliament and you got only one voice and one sided view???

      We had to first question and review about the Thai judicial system and its laws before we even accuse or prosecute anyone. Thais cannot even take the Lese Majeste law seriously since it is an undemocratic law meant to protect the aristocracy in power like the monarchy and it would never protects the democracy since the elites had no benefits from democracy. The red shirts cannot even rely on the king because the king is always silent and never wanted democracy. The monarchy knows that many redshirts were against monarchy but the monarchy cannot charge them with lese majeste since most red shirts did not mention about monarchy or failed to recognize Thai monarchy which is playing an undemocratic role in Thai politics. It is funny to ask a dictator or a despot leader like a king or an emperor to solve the political crisis and to bring democracy because they are dictatorial aristocrats so it is less likely that they would bring democracy and allow democratic election against their royalist puppets like Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Prem.

      The time has come for another bloody French Revolution but this time, it will happen in Thailand. Democracy can come to power by using violence or force especially when it is oppressed by dictators. More or less like dictators normally came to power by using violence to oppress and to intimidate people to maintain their power . The Thai proletariat redshirts would have to fight for their freedom and for the Thai democracy even if it means using violence or force since negotiations with royalist dictators would not help. Violence is normally a bad thing but it could also bring peace, stability, prosperity and democracy to the nation just like it happenned to French Democratic Republic. That is how French Democratic Republic was born. We are witnessing the starting of the People’s Revolution! Long Live the People’s Republic!

    10. Human Rights Watch says:

      Why do you need censorship and medieval’s lese majeste law just to protect your national security and the moral of Thais? Why do you need to violate international law and violate human rights or violating your citizens’ rights just to protect your national security? It sounds just like China need to ban satellite dishes just to protect their national security as if China is preventing someone who is going to use the satellite dish to hit someone in the head with Kung Fu style. These Regimes’ statements and accusations are absolute jokes.

      What do you mean by protecting your Thai national security? You mean protecting your medieval aristocratic governing system like Monarchy? Protecting your king who is in power and acting as Fascist Dictator?! And not protecting human rights or democracy or free media? Shame on these crazy royalists!

    11. Republican says:

      Now, the only way for the Thai elites and their monarchy to hold onto power and to crackdown the pro-democracy redshirts is by calling them as “terrorists” since lese majeste has no effect on intimidating them.

      Abhisit’s government claimed that there were 500 terrorists within redshirt movement and claimed that they got stockpiled of weapons from the redshirts but other evidences did not suggest the international community that the government’s evidences/claims are 100% valid such as the killings of 10 yrs old boy, a paramedic, women and foreign journalists and there were almost no signs of redshirts obtaining war weapons or shooting live ammunitions at military and there is only 1 soldier who got killed versus 85 civilians were killed by military. The comparison is very different between military’s death toll and the civilian’s death toll. This suggest that it is the military who has more fire power to kill the redshirts while many redshirts were un-armed or they were armed with only a slingshot or a stick. Many evidences also suggests that the redshirts were spending more time burning tyres rather than shooting at soldiers. You see the difference?

      There was also no evidence of terroristic hostage situation too so military involvement is not necessary. They should only only riot policemen with shield and baton and firing only tear gas like in Greece during the Greek Protest.

      To be realistic, if there are really 500 armed terrorists within redshirt protest then it would not be possible for the military to crackdown the redshirt protest within only 3-4 days. Imagine, having 500 Talibans doing urban war against the Thai military. So how can the crackdown be possible and so easy like that? Again, the Abhisit’s government is lying to international community and distorting facts and controlling the Thai media and censoring the opposition’s media. It is not true that there are 500 terrorists within the redshirt protest because otherwise, the crackdown would not have been so easy like this. I know, because I’ve seen a lot of war between Al Qaeda terrorists or Talibans and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    12. Norris Hall says:

      Please be careful not to say anything that might be critical of the Thai government in the comments section.
      They have the ability to trace your IP address and will punish you if you say anything they don’t like.
      Please be careful
      The Thai government is watching

    13. Republican says:

      My prediction of another bloody French Revolution would come true. You people will see it.

      It is no surprise that many of you sounded like Royalist elite more who was spinning and opposing people who made pro-democracy or pro-redshirt comments in the debate. Your position in the debate would tell on what side you are in.

      It also looks like someone like Josh needs to go back and review the situation in Thailand better and not being brainwash or trick by the government’s lyings and their propagandas. Many Youtube videos suggests that the violence was first being provoked and used by Thai military and that the military was killing innocent un-armed civilians like a 10 yrs old boy and a paramedic, women and foreign journalists. The well-trained military snipers were targeting un-armed civilians!!! How can you explain that? Are you still foolish to believe that the Redshirts had made all of these facts/evidences? Come On, Josh!

      These are also important key questions to be ask and answer:

      Does Thailand even have First Ammendment or valid Democratic constitutions which guarantees freedom of speech and the rights of its citizens? Does it have a legal democratically elected government? Who is a head of state and the head of armed force and is he/she truly support democracy? Who is behind the military coups? If Thailand is a stable and democratic nation then why does it need 18 coups? Is there Free Media in Thailand? How can Mr. Abhisit be better than Mr. Thaksin since Mr. Thaksin was been democratically elected and his policy did help the majority of Thais in rural areas and the Democrat Party is even much more corrupt than the TRT party?

      We already know that the type of institutions and processes and events that is happenning in Thailand isn’t any close to being “Democratic” and many Thai laws are not even constitutional and not very democratic and they were established by elites as I explained earlier. If you people truly support democracy then there is no point for you people to argue with me or disagree with the People’s French-style Revolution against this current military-supported Royalist, Feudalistic, Dictatorship of Thailand.

    14. Police Officer says:

      Norris Hall,

      Let them spend more time tracing my IP address and I also bet that this website would be ban too. I want to see them coming here to punish me so I could “personally deal with them in a legal fashion”. This would also give an opposite result to what they want to archieve.

      Sorry, but this is no Thailand, the land of Dark Age Royalist Regime. Not even China can stop me.

    15. Republican says:

      And if violence or Revolution isn’t a solution to bring democracy then how can the Thai people like the French people in the past can bring democracy into a dictatorial countries like Thailand, North Korea, or Myanmar in which its democracy is already been oppressed by its dictators?

      But that is how French Democratic Republic was born after it was oppressed for many years by the corrupted French aristocrats and monarchy.

      Would you people still be foolish to believe someone like Dictator Kim Jong Il would wanna talk about restoring Democracy in North Korea and that the Myanmar’s military dictatorship would allow democratic election and allowing someone like Aung San Suu Kyi to play politics again and that the Thai military and the Thai king would step down their puppets like Prem Thisulanonda and Mr. Abhisit from ruling the nation and abolishing lese majeste law to allow free speech against monarchy?????? Come On! Looks like many of you got too many jokes in your head.

    16. Republican says:

      The Redshirts need to use force to pressure and overthrow these dictators and also in order to surrender these dictators and stop the crimes that had been committing by royalists for hundreds of years in Thai History and to also restore Thai Democracy. That is the only way to bring democracy and nobody wants to be a sitting duck and allow the soldiers to fire on them and charging them for free as being terrorists or terrorist organization. I believe that the violent uprising like the “French Revolution” is the answer to the Thai Political Crisis.

      It is no surprise and not something new that the elites wanted Mr. Thaksin dead and that is why there were many assasination attempts against Mr. Thaksin by the elites when Mr. Thaksin was still in power. Now, it is even worse, because they are making bad excuse to kill Mr. Thaksin by charging him as Terrorist like Osama Bin Laden and they wanted to give death sentence or kill him on purpose just like they tried many times. Since ousting Mr. Thaksin did not help the elites much because Mr. Thaksin is still a threat to the elites power by promoting democracy and paying for pro-democracy movements known as the “Red Shirt” movement so the only best solution for these royalists, elites is to kill Mr. Thaksin in order to shut his mouth and to stop the pro-democracy protest. If Mr. Thaksin does Not pay donation for the pro-democracy movement then what kind of rich elites would be willing to spend donation for pro-democracy movement in a country like Thailand? Most rich elites won’t even pay for a penny for democracy because they don’t want Democracy in Thailand since they fear that Democracy could be a threat to their ruling power. And most of the poor Thais don’t even have enough money to spend for Pro-Democracy movement even if they do support Democracy.

      Thailand lost 290 billions bahts when the Yellow shirts came to protest and block the airports in comparison to only 100 billion bahts that was lost during the Red shirts protest in Rachaprasong district so the Yellow Shirts had done more damage to Thailand than the Red shirts did. Even the yellow shirts are acting like terrorists because they use force to bring their un-elected Abhisit’s government to power and they destroyed Thailand’s economy a lot. Unlike Redshirts, the Yellowshirts were not figting for democracy cause but for their own interest, wealth, power. Those who oppose democracy and violates human rights are terrorists just like the Yellowshirts and monarchy’s lese majeste law. The redshirts promoted and wanted democracy and now they are becoming freedom fighters struggling for democracy and their freedom so it is more justifiable for the Redshirts to use force for self-defense and for Revolution against their Oppressors.

      If the military wasn’t shooting at the redshirts then violence and bloodshed and the burnings of buildings could have been avoided. What do you expect from redshirts’ reactions when they were shot and killed like animals? Do you think that they won’t do anything to defend their themselves? Do you think that the redshirts will not even respond violently or become angry? The Thai military had provoked the violence first. Thailand Abhisit’s illegal government must stop this unacceptable provocation of violence and stop the killings of unarmed peaceful protesters. Mr. Abhisit must learn to become like a gentleman more and know that he is suppose to get off his golden chair since he isn’t been democratically elected by his people and restoring democracy to the people.

      If you don’t want redhsirts to protest in the city center to pressure the Abhisit’s illegal terroristic government then where do you want the redshirts to protest? In the middle of Jungle? And then Mr. Abhisit would not even care and the negotiations would have been ignored by government.

      The Redshirts have the rights to peaceful demonstration and to voice their free speech against any kind of leaders.

    17. Republican says:

      The peaceful reconciliation plan is far far away from reality. The Abhisit’s government was lying that he agreed to step down and hold election in September and was using “sweet talking tactic” or “lying tactic” to convince the redshirt leaders to disperse the redshirts crowd. In other words, the government’s motive is to either disperse the redshirts by lying and convince the redshirt leaders that the government had agreed to peaceful reconciliation plan or by crackdown the redshirts protest by using bloody military crackdown or violence. Since the redshirts agreed to the peaceful reconciliation plan but did not agree on dispersing from city center then the Abhisit’s government knew that the “sweet talking tactic” or “lying tactic” did not work because many redshirt leaders were not stupid and won’t easily fall victim to the government’s lying or trap.

      How can there be peaceful reconciliation if the government was using violence and military crackdown or shooting at the pro-democracy redshirts??? Why does Mr. Abhisit needs 4-6 months extra to be in power? Mr. Abhisit was suppose to go out and allow democratic election long time ago but why was he still in power illegally?? Mr. Abhisit MUST RESIGN FROM HIS POSITION NOW! Not even by tomorrow or by next week or by next 4-6 months!! Mr. Abhisit MUST RESIGN IMMEDIATELY since he knows that he came to power illegally and HE MUST STOP HOLDING ONTO POWER ILLEGALLY! Period.

    18. Human Rights Watch says:

      Even if Thaksin and his TRT party were eliminated but there would still be corruption in Thailand in the future. The corruption is a common problem in Thailand and every leaders in Thai history were corrupted even the Thai military and the Thai Monarchy are corrupted. TRT party is actually the least corrupt party that Thailand has ever had. The Democrat Party is very corrupted and it is not really better than the TRT party. So it is not justifiable to oust or assasinate Mr. Thaksin by just charging him with corruption or by criminalize him on purpose as a terrorist. That could have been a civil penalty instead and the military coup in 2006 would not be necessary at all. The Thai Yellow-shirt Royalist Court is playing double standard as usual and they failed to also punish the Yellow Shirts for destroying Thai economy and for committing terroristic violence back in 2008. It is also very undemocratic and unnecessary to ban the entire TRT party and other redshirt parties included People’s 1997 democratic constituion. Why did the Thai military coup banned the democratic constitutions of 1997? What does this democratic constitution have to do with TRT party? Why did the military replaced it with the pro-military or pro-aristocratic constitution? This clearly showed that the Thai military isn’t defending democracy but it prefers to defend monarchy and aristocracy and their own interest. General Sondhi also committed corruption by selling lands on the small hills in upcountry illegally and earned a lot of money in each month. It is crystal clear that the Thai military is corrupted in many ways. Thai military failed to protect the democratic secularism constitutions and failed to restore Thai democracy in Thailand because they are the “King’s Soldiers” or “Yellow-shirt Royalist Soldiers”. There is no doubt that Thailand is under the ruling of royalist dictatorship with support of the Thai military junta so there is NO WAY that the members of opposition parties like TRT, People Power Party and Peau Thai Party included Mr. Thaksin himself is going have a fair trial in the Thai Yellow-Shirt Royalist Court since the Thai court is under control of elites and the laws were written by the elites as well. Thai justice system is corrupted by royalists or elites. Thus, there is no justice in Thailand.

    19. Marxist Follower says:

      Monarchy should not even exist today because it is a medieval feudalistic governing system with no election and the monarchs does not even have to pay tax. Let it rot! It should belong to the past. Wake up! This is year 2010! We wanted democracy! We wanted democratic election! We wanted Freedom of Speech or First Ammendment and we don’t want medieval’s lese majeste law. Thailand does not deserve to be like North Korea or Myanmar! I am astounded that many Thais still talk like people during medieval times or people of 600 years ago! Thailand does not need Monarchy since there are other better government systems to use and better democratic laws to protect the citizens’ rights. Democracy might not be perfect but it is the best system to use for the moment. Monarchy is a very old aristocratic governing system and it does not represent the people or democracy. Like other despotic governing system or despotic dictators like kings, they don’t want democracy because they see democracy as a threat to their ruling power and they don’t gain any benefits from it. This might explain why the Thai king approved lese majeste law and continue to oppress his people’s free speech and approving his puppets to rule the country for him and getting rid of all oppositions. It is also very undemocratic to have a monarch appointing the privy councillor and the royalist prime minister for the country too. This is big shame and a big blow to Thai democracy! How can Thai democracy survive under these oppressions such as Undemocratic Oppressive laws like lese majeste and corrupted military officials who are only interested in defending the monarchy and elites in power rather than defending the democracy and human rights? Thailand is still stuck in the dark age with Absolute Monarchy with undemocratic corrupted constitutions like the article #3 under protection by corrupted military officials.

    20. Say No to Dictators! says:

      “Together We Can……. Keep the Royalist Regime Very Clean”

      Oh No! Does it mean shutting more people’s mouth and keeping them as royal slaves?!

    21. International Court of Justice says:

      If the Thai government is so sure that their claims are totally valid and correct then why don’t they allow international organizations to investigate the violence and the situation crisis in Thailand??? Why don’t they also allow international mediator? What is it the Thai government had to hide from international community???


      Why do they still censor the media and not allowing opposition’s voice or free media??? Why is there no freedom of speech? Why does Thai leaders and Thai government fear critics who are just armed with a mouth and need lese majeste to shut the critics’ mouth??? Why do they have to ban all the websites that informs the Thai people with correct facts and information concerning monarchy and democracy???

    22. Sithao Kratai says:

      Republican Senator and Republican, who read like one and the same, have much to say about democracy and elections. If you are American, then you have a very short memory. Remember Republican Gerald Ford, who was never elected President nor Vice President? Ford served out the remaining term of Richard Nixon.
      Thai Prime Minister Abhisit is serving out the remaining term of his predecessor, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, who was disqualified for corruption. That term expires in 2011.
      All through Republican Ford’s term, the Democrats had the majority in both the US Senate and the House of Reps.
      Unlike Gerald Ford, PM Adhisit has the support of the elected members in both Houses of the Thai Parliament. You may have missed it, but this week Abhisit and his government won a resounding victory against the opposition’s censure motion.
      So unless you have some other definition for democracy, why not stick to the facts?
      Anyway, I thought the above article was about media censorship and the rights of
      reporters to go about their lawful business. How has it become a political debate?

    23. Shim says:

      Thanks for all of the information!

    24. Bill Carter says:

      Sithao, Why would you compare the US to Thailand? Thailand’s governance does not resemble any form of democracy. Since 1930s there have been 17 coups. Since we are comparing apples to oranges.. the US had 13 different presidents in the same time. Each time the common folk gain too much power the “elite” and those with power form a military coup to take hold the power again. It has happened again and again. And by the way the middle/upper class of Bangkok do not represent the country as a whole. Majority of Thai citizens live in villages and rural areas. The North East is 1/3 of Thailand’s population and there is “red” support in the North as well. When was the last time Abhisit went to the North East (Udon Thani) or North (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai)?
      The problems in Thailand need to be addressed they will not just go away or be forgotten. The country has grown more and more divided each month since the coup of ’06.

    25. Republic of Siam says:

      Sithao Kratai,

      Republican and Republican Senator are 2 different people but with same political ideology. They are “Republicans” like Republicans who support People’s Republic of France. They were talking about Republic Form of governance or Republic as a form of democratic government versus Thai Monarchy. Republicans do not only exist in the US.

      The problem is that you were actually focusing on “Republican Party” in the US but you are not focusing on Republic as democratic governing system like in France, Italy or countries like Republic of Brazil or Republic of Chile.

      Instead of discrediting Republicans on purpose, look up the definition of Democratic Republic and facts about Democratic Form of Governance then you would know the “facts”. Most countries are using Republic as a form of government, some are more democratic and some republics are more corrupted or having official misleading title or not being as truly people’s democratic republic such as DPRK “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” or North Korea which is very undemocratic ruled by Dictator Kim jong il or like Saddam’s Republic of Iraq where you can only vote for Saddam as head of state since he eliminated all his oppositions more or less like the Thai king eliminating anti-monarchy critics and politicians like Mr. Thaksin (charged with lese majeste), Mr. Chavalit, etc and political parties that were considered to be anti-monarchy.

      Also, the censorship in Thailand by Thai leaders is too politically motivated and the Thai justice system is corrupted leading to more lese majeste charges and illegal arrests included extra-judicial killings so yes we can discuss the nature of Thai politics. Thai monarchy’s role and yellow shirts royalists waiving royal flags and lese majeste also interferes with Thai Politics so it is good to raise it as a main issue here instead of completely ignoring Thai monarchy.

      And stop comparing USA and Thailand because they are both very different. The situation in Thailand is very very different from US. Unlike US President Obama, Mr. Abhisit came to power by force illegally which is against democratic principle and has never been elected by Thai people, that is also a valid fact. Thailand’s laws, leaders, judicial system were all corrupted and under control of elites in every aspect with support of military junta. Thailand is also violating international laws included violating Geneva Convention Treaty so its leaders must be brought to justice. You have absolutely no idea what you were saying, Sithao.

      Anyway, thanks to Bill Carter for mentioning some valid facts to help Sithao understand these differences well.

    26. International Court of Justice says:

      Despite what the Thai government claimed, the result with high death toll of innocent unarmed civilians versus only 1 dead soldier is telling us a different story here. The stockpiled of weapons were definitely planted into Redshirt encampments by government troops to distort the facts and making it look like many Redshirts do obtain war weapons like M16 rifles, shotguns, etc which isn’t a true fact. Many evidences of video footages like the ones on Youtube does not even prove that the redshirts were firing live ammunitions at government troops but it actually proved the opposite that it is the government troops that had more fire power and were killing the peaceful redshirt protesters like a 10 yrs old child, women, paramedic and foreign journalists in cold blood. I am also amazed that the thai king does not even react when the troops were killing people while he is the head of state and the head of armed force but instead, he remained silent again. There is no doubt that the thai king and his puppets were all involved in these crimes against humanity. It is time for the thai monarchs and their royal puppets to go to international court and face international justice for their crimes against humanity. The Thai monarchy and the thai king is a big failure to Thai democracy. The king also failed to keep his promise to sue and abolish lese majeste law but he approved it instead, together with this lese majeste cyber crime law which is all about hacking, censorship, harrassing critics who criticize monarchy online. This would negatively impact the Thai democracy and its free media as well as the opposition’s voice. How can Thailand be democratic under such an oppressive royalist regime?

      Why can’t Thailand and its leaders follow the international laws and respect human rights more? Why did they violated international laws? They all wanted to end up like Saddam Hussein too???

    27. Sithao Kratai says:

      Bill Carter,
      Thanks for the history, but I was aware of it. You are quite right – Military intervention has no place in the modern democracy. The comparison was in response to incorrect comments here that the Abhisit Government is not legitimate. Under the Westminster system, the Prime Minister is not directly elected. The party leader with the most votes of the elected representatives becomes Prime Minister. After the military relinquished control, an election was held. No one party won a clear majority and TRT/Puea Thai formed a coalition with minority parties, and therefore held government. Abhisit is the third PM since that election. He came to power because 2 minority parties switched sides, so he then held the majority, but only for the remainder of the electoral term, when he must then call an election. He was not put in power by the military coup.
      Abhisit did go to Udon Thani early in April to announce that the government was writing off hundreds of millions baht of rural debt, but he was ambushed by the red organisers with a barrage of loud hailers and sound systems, which accused him of not listening.
      In May, a further 436.8 million baht was distributed to Rice Farmers who were suffering from low market prices during the period March 15 to April 24. That announcement didn’t filter through either.
      Again you are right about the plight of the Rural poor. Under every Thai Constitution thus far, a person cannot stand for election for Public Office unless he/she holds a university degree. Until that is changed, the Rural poor will be forever beholden to, and manipulated by the Bangkok based political parties. Not even Puea Thai, who purports to represent them, is rushing to make that constitutional change.
      Bill, I assume that you are a genuine person. I suspect that most of the lengthy comments here are by the spamming associates of the PR Lawyer that Thaksin has employed to re-write history.

    28. Republican says:

      Sithao Kratai,

      Again, we were not trying to re-write history but Bill Carter and We Republicans just wanted to make sure that you understand about what is going on in Thailand versus USA since it looks like you have absolutely no idea of what is happening in your country and you don’t seem to know what we were talking about. First you were comparing Republican Party in the US with Thailand’s illegal unelected government while we did not mention anything about US Republicans in this debate. What does US Republican Party has to do with Thailand? Forget about USA and US Republican Party. Thailand still need democratic election instead of another military coup or King’s appointed royalist puppets because otherwise, it could never become democratic.

      The problems are you were essentially ignoring the important points and main issues about crimes or crisis situation in Thailand in this debate and discrediting and accusing or judging people who disagree with Abhisit’s government’s illegal way of engagement during the redshirt protest which violated international standard of engagement. How can you deny these and become as silent as your Thai king? Why were you focusing on our identity so much? Who cares about who we are? We were just concerned about humanity and justice and Thai democracy that was being oppressed by the royalist regime.

    29. International Court of Justice says:

      Mr. Sithao Kratai,

      It is not constructive in the debate for you to come here and simply accuse us for spamming and being associates of the PR Lawyer for Mr. Thaksin and you don’t even know our personal information to begin with. We were not re-writing history but we were mentioning facts about war crimes against humanity in Thailand by your corrupted Thai leaders since we were concerned for humanity and Thai Democracy. If you disagree with our facts that we posted then please explain why you disagree and do you have any valid facts to backup your counter arguments in the debate? If you wanted to debate then learn how to debate like gentlemen do. Anyone, can accuse anyone for being hired PR agents. Yet, we could also have accuse you for being King’s slave/subject or Mr. Abhisit’s PR agents too since you sounded just like them. Actually, most of the PR agents were Royalists hired by king to make pro-monarchy and pro-government comments and distort facts in debate while many lobbylists were pro-redshirts who just wanted to start the discussion about Thai monarchy that the royalists wanted to censor.

      Anyway, at the end of the day, it does not matter who we are but what matters the most are the valid facts and that we want justice and we want those who committed crimes against humanity to go to prison regardless to their rank. Thailand also still need to invite international investigations into these crimes instead of continuing censoring media and making up their own facts to brainwash the people or to the defend the wrongdoings of the government officials.

      And…… Your so-called Abhisit must RESIGN by NOW and ALLOW DEMOCRATIC ELECTION AND DEMOCRATIC REFORMS AS WELL AS INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIONS! He MUST also appear at the international court for the illegal engagement against unarmed civilians during protest! Mr. Abhisit does not deserve any credits. Period.

    30. Republican Senator says:

      Dear Mr. Sithao Kratai,

      Welcome to the International Globalized Modern World and Internet Public debate where all views of everyone regardless of their race, religion and nationality are welcome!

      “Republican” and “Republic of Siam” named commentators are my best friends and we are Republicans who support Democratic Republic form of government and Democracy! Sir, we are not the same person.

      God bless Thai Democracy and Thai people and to those innocent civilians who lost their life during the violent Thai military crackdown!

      Good Day, Sir!

    31. Sithao Kratai says:

      Please read the following:



      In the case of rhetoric & propaganda v THE TRUTH

      The defence rests;
      Case dismissed!
      We are adjourned………

    32. Republican says:

      Sithao Kratai,

      Let’s be more specific:

      First of all, keep in mind that sometimes, wikipedia is biased and it is not always the best source media to get all the information and some pages needs to be update too. Sometimes, we cannot even post some valid facts or edit it because on some pages, wikipedia only wanted neural perspective and sometimes it fails to offer information that is critical to the Thai military and its monarchy.

      Secondly, unlike British’s parliamentary system, the Thai parliamentary system is just symbolic and has no power over the head of state who is an unelected, undemocratic, aristocratic monarch. The Thai monarchy essentially have absolute power to rule the country in every aspects. In other words, the thai king does not rule the country in a symbolic manner and he has his royal puppets managing the country for him.

      Anyway, check these facts out because Thailand also falls into these classifications:




















      “Thai Royal Power Controversy”


      Thus, Thailand is just technically constitutional monarchy with powerless, symbolic parliamentary simply because of the presense of constitutions but it is still an effective Absolute Monarchy because the constitutions are corrupted and undemocratic such as article#3 which allows the Thai king to exercise such power over the national assembly, judiciary system, military, and over Thai citizens and even approving lese majeste.

      Sorry but this important case is far from over and discussion about monarchy’s role shall continue possibly leading to French Revolution in Thailand due to many oppressions by its leaders. The struggle for Thai Democracy and Human rights shall go on.

      By the way, I am assure that you would agree with us about making Thailand a more democratic stable country that respects human rights more and ending this dictatorial ruling system and its censorships.

      Cheers! :)

    33. Republican Senator says:

      Right! Let’s end this Thai dictatorial ruling system and allow Thai Democracy so the Thai people could cherish their freedoms and have a better and happier life!!!

      Democracy shall prevail!


    34. Human Rights Activist says:

      I agree too with Mr. Republican! This notorious dictatorial ruling system established by the Thai aristocrats/elites and their king must come to an end in order to save Thailand’s Democracy and the rights of its citizens!

      Good Luck!


    35. Sithao Kratai says:

      Rhetoric, propaganda and echoes.
      No one is listening.
      Take a look around, the room has been empty since my second comment.
      It’s time for you to report back to HQ for re-assignment!

    36. Republican says:


      I can hear that!

      Someone is definitely watching.

    37. Republican Senator says:


      Rhetoric, propaganda and echoes????

      Instead of discrediting on purpose, do you have any proof that the facts and links that we posted are simply rhetoric, propaganda and echoes, Mr. Sithao??? No Proof at all??? Well, too bad, you just lost the debate. Looks like you are just good in trolling just like the king’s hired elite trolls.

    38. Human Rights Activist says:

      At least, we are happy to enjoy our rights like being able to express ourselves!

    39. Thank you for all of your comments. I just want to clarify Reporters Without Borders’ position on this topic.

      Lately, most of the testimonies we received from reporters are telling that they have been shot at or at least targeted by the army.

      HOWEVER, in the press releases and reports the organization published so far, reporters have been victims of both the army and the red shirts. We are of course asking for investigations in the murders of Hiro Muramoto and Fabio Polenghi.

      We have no intention of telling who is right in that conflict and to take a political stance on it. We greatly regret that, ONCE AGAIN, reporters are victims of the conflicts because of their job.

      The only way to get true information on what is exactly happening is to let them work and report.

    40. I find the original report to be biased and muck-raking. Sorry, but that’s me being blunt.

      The report appears to have been written by someone not based in Thailand during all the various troubles of the last four years (starting with the anti-Thaksin protests and near-riots prior to the 2006 coup). The reporter also forgets the open season that existed on journalists throughout the Thaksin reign, kicked off when he bought Thai terrestrial TV station iTV and sacked dozens of journalists and presenters who had been critical of him throughout his election campaign of the year 2000. The article also makes no mention of the numerous cases he brought against individual junior reporters for libel in a lesse majeste manner as the PM of Thailand. Nor does it mention the 2,500 people executed extra-judiciously in his so called war on drugs (including infants as young as 3 months old killed by police bullets – Thaksin was once a policeman too, and no policeman has ever been charged for these killings).

      As a journalist who has been in Thailand since before Thaksin started his year 2000 election campaign, I remember his pre-election declaration that he would serve as PM for only the first two years of that term if he won, then hand over to a more experienced politician and return to his business interests. I remember too that two years later he said he would only serve up to the next election then hand the party to someone else. And that after that election he said he would serve only one more year as PM before handing over.

      Even after he had been forced into holding a snap 3rd election in early 2006, and had the election thrown out by the Electoral Commission for failing to give the opposition time to campaign (they boycotted all constituencies and Thaksin had to pay for proxy opposition candidates), he still clung to power as a “caretaker” PM after the courts dissolved Parliament over the fiasco.

      Throughout all of this, Thaksin continued his persecution and prosecution of all journalists who spoke against him – this is when Sondthi L (editor and owner of Manager magazine and other media) raised up the fledgling yellow shirt movement. Previously the pair had been best friends and business partners.

      Thaksin was ousted as CARETAKER PM by the coup, due to the combined concern over mega-fraud regarding sale of his telecoms empire to a Singapore state enterprise, and because it was clear to everyone in the country that without a coup, he was going to become the next Marcos or Kim Jong Il.

      Even the rural poor were sick of him at that point … and everyone in the media even more so – he’d even gone so far as to arrest two British reporters from the Far Eastern Economic Review for simply translating the King’s Birthday Speech into English (without comment or opinion attached) and tried to charge them with Lesse Majeste. It is common knowledge that it was the King himself who ordered charges dropped and the reporters released – another loss of face to Thaksin.

      When the Red Shirt troubles broke out this year in Bangkok, it was obvious from the outset that reporters were going to be casualties. Freelance amateurs wandering around live-fire zones without body armour or helmet, sprinting between opposing parties sniping at each other, even rushing blindly into scenarios with the first sound of an explosion and getting caught by second or third grenades. All far too eager to get some photos – and it was mostly photographers that got injured. Hiro Muramoto was also a photographer, as was the other Japanese journalist killed in Rangoon during the last protests there.

      With hindsight, I wonder now about those green armbands issued to reporters by the Red Shirt “internal police” – were they for identifying journalists for their own protection, or to make them targets? Why did the government press division not issue similar body-wear identification to journalists? Why did so many journalists dress in ways that did not seggregate them from the protestors? (Press vest/waistcoat badged over-wear).

      Prior to the Ratchaprasong occupation, during the April night battle between Red Shirts and army, several reporters recorded video footage, posted it to YouTube, and expressly showed that most of the firing was coming from within the Red cordon zone, heading out to the army ranks. Most of their video shows the army firing high (well over protesters heads), and therefore the press casualties that night most probably came from red shirt ammunition.

      Freedom of speech may be a right in some countries, it is a privilege in others, yet some of the freedom expressed above could be seen as incitement to cause civil unrest and further violence within Thailand – no-one here outside of Thaksin’s supporters, wants that to happen – as demonstrated by survey, poll, and interview results after the bomb in Bangkok this last Sunday. And that preference includes the press corps, as well as the public.

      I suggest the republicans above read this –

    41. denyzofisarn says:

      April 10’s incident happened at the Democracy Monument. It was true the soldiers sent to drive Red Shirts protesters were shooting into the sky to warn protesters. Soldiers were retreating because it was getting dark. But, without any warning soldiers were attacked with M79 grenades and AK 47 bullets. When the soldiers waved their arms and tried to retrieve their fallen comrades, they were met with more grenades and bullets. Those were the ‘terrorists/men-in-black’ PM AV of Thailand was referring to. Terrorists do not honour ‘Rules of Engagement’ ceasefire in combat.
      The Queen’s soldiers were left with no choice but fire three single-shot in self-defense as they retreat. The soldiers could have killed more protesters had they not being professionally trained. Dr. Desmond Ball, a military expert’s interview by ANU, ‘Thaiand in Crisis part2’ would be a good place to go to understand the what went on in Thailand Apr-May 2010.
      That was no massacre of protesters only armed with catapults and ‘bang fai’ firework as claimed by the shyster Mr Robert Amsterdam. A lawyer paid by the fugitive exPM Thaksin Shinawatra to ‘repack’ his soiled image. It was a mini war going on. There are two good articles written in Asia Times that will shed light to the realities of the political crisis here in Thailand.
      An offer of an election was given to the Red Shirts, twice. They refused it because the current govt get to appoint the military chief that supports the King. The almost all Thai people love the King because this he loves his subject. It is the right of the Thai people. We have laws to protect what we believe is right. What will happen to a Thai who go your country and fly your national flag upside down? So let us not violent each others’ rights.

  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »
    MediaShift Newsletters »

    Follow us on Social Media