Friday, May 16, 2008

Thais accuse local news media company of inciting violence

Thai scholar Giles Ji Ungpakorn has posted a report about a petition circulated and signed by some leading figures in Thailand. "Over 130 trade unionists, social activists, students and academics have put their names to an open letter condemning the behaviour of The Manager media group" the report begins.
The letter is in response to the actions of Mr Sonti Limtongkul's Manager group in promoting violence against a young student activist Chotisak Oonsung, who is being accused of lèse majesté because he refused to stand up for the King's Anthem at the cinema. Both Manager group websites and its radio station, Metro Life, have encouraged Ultra-Rightwing Royalists to attack Mr Chotisak. Ms Jitra Kotchadej, Chairwoman of the Triumph workers union has also been made a target for violence by The Manager media. Ms Jitra was singled out because she wore a T-shirt supporting the right to different views in society, including not standing up at the cinema. Both Mr Chotisak and Ms Jitra's photographs and home addresses were published alongside urges to attack them. The Manager media also encouraged people to attack and break up a meeting on Human Rights at Thammasart University recently.
See this post for background and my own take on the controversy about the student who chose not to stand up in the movie theatre for the royal anthem. The report continues:
Those signing the open letter compare the behaviour of The Manager with the past behaviour of Rightwing media such as Dao Sayam newspaper and the Tank Corps radio station in inciting violence that led to the 6th October 1976 blood bath.
I have blogged about the 6th October 1976 blood bath. The Thai Prime Minister, Samak, who was apparently an announcer at Tank Corps radio station back in '76, recently denied any massacre had taken place.

Concerning a related development, Bangkok Pundit (BP) reports that the source of this report, Prachatai, and another website Faw Diew Kan (Thai language), were blocked by some Thai ISP providers on 15 May. Why? Because these sites have published commentary on the story of the man who would not stand up for the royal anthem in the movie theatre. But as BP points out, the courts have yet to rule that Chotisak Oonsung even committed a crime by not standing.

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