Prominent Thai journalist released, but forced to sign government agreement
Sept.21, Bangkok: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the release of prominent Thai journalist, Pravit Rojanaphruk. The IFJ urges the Thai military government to stop intimidating the country's media and end its continued attack on press freedom and freedom of expression.
On September 15, 2015, Pravit, who works for the English-language daily The Nation, and two Pheu Thai politicans were releaseded following they were detained by the military on September 13. Pravit was detained after he responded to a request to meet with authorities at the 1st Army headquarters in Bangkok. Following his detention, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) told reporters that Pravit was detained because he had written articles that 'go against efforts to keep public order' and 'could case confusion and misunderstanding'.
Following his release, Pravit said that he and the two politicians were forced to sign an agreement not to lead, participate or assist in any anti-coup movement. The NCPO also filed a pending police complaint against Pravit, which would be activated if he violated the NCPO order.
Following Pravit's release, military junta leader, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha said that those who were called for 'attitude adjustments' including Pravit, have to comply with the pact in relation to some personal activities, such as informing the NCPO when planning to travel abroad. He also pointed out that the NCPO has the authority to freeze their bank account if it finds their movements suspicious. "I will agree with them no more. If they repeat it again, they have to go to court. There'll be no more negotiation," said General Prayuth.
This is the second time that Pravit has been summoned and detained by the military junta. On May 25, 2014, Pravit was among 100 prominent Thais summoned by the NCPO to attend the Royal Thai Army auditorium following the military coup on May 20. The group was detained by the military and released seven days later.
Following the declaration of martial law, the ruling junta issued clear restrictions for media, including demanding specific television networks off the air (http://www.ifj.org/nc/news-single-view/backpid/33/article/journalists-detained-as-thai-military-closes-in-on-media/) to 'preserve peace and order'. In addition over 100 websites were blocked and numerous community radio stations were taken off the air.
The IFJ said: "The Thai military government continues to suppress freedom of expression across Thailand. Critics are frequently intimidated and threatened by the military in an attempt by the government to silence them and control the media. Since the coup in May 2014, the media has come under continued attack in Thailand and this needs to stop."
The Oslo Times/Ifex