THAILAND: Debate on monarchy taken off the air Sun, 17/03/2013 – 20:45 | by prachatai

un, 17/03/2013 – 20:45 | by prachatai

Thai PBS television channel decided to cancel the broadcast of the last programme of its talk show series discussing the issue of constitutional monarchy, after a group of about 20 ‘Thai patriots’ protested at the station on the evening of 15 March.

The programme, entitled ‘Tob Jote Prathet Thai’ or ‘Answering (or Tackling) Problems of Thailand’, had run its previous four programmes in the series since Monday night.  Each of the first three programmes had a different guest, former Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Thammasat lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul, and former palace police chief Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn, while the last two programmes covered a debate between Somsak and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa.
However, just a few hours before the second half of the debate was to go on air, the group gathered at the television station and demanded the cancellation of the broadcast of the programme, claiming that Somsak and Sulak talked about the monarchy improperly and harboured the intention to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code.
Consequently, the TPBS executives decided to air an earlier programme about a slain Muslim leader in the south instead.
On 16 March, Phinyo Traisuriyathamma, the host of the programme, announced that he and the production team would cease to produce the programme.
The first half of the debate, which was broadcast on the night of 14 March, started with Somsak and Sulak continuing the argument they had previously had on Facebook over the recent Bangkok gubernatorial election. Continue reading “THAILAND: Debate on monarchy taken off the air Sun, 17/03/2013 – 20:45 | by prachatai”

“Prachatai gives voice to democracy.”Free speech on trial in Thailand-day 10

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

“Prachatai gives voice to democracy.”

Nine court days beginning on February 4th were spent hearing from minions of the forces of darkness assembled by the prosecution to testify against Prachatai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn. Remarkably in the 21st century, perhaps even in Thailand, 11 bureaucrats and police spoke up against free speech.

Chiranuch faces 20 years in prison for ten charges of lèse majesté under the Computer Crimes Act for comments users posted to a public Web forum police say were not removed promptly enough to suit the law.

Defence testimony started this morning, calling two witnesses highly respected in the community, both of whom co-founded the Foundation for Community Educational Media in 2004. FCEM is the civil society umbrella organisation governing Prachatai’s independent news website.

Jon Ungpakorn served as the first chair of FCEM. Jon is also a 2005 recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize.

Jon was also elected to the Thai Senate, serving from 2004 to 2006. He currently serves as chair of the working group on lèse majesté in the subcommittee on civil and political rights of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand.

Jon testified that he started Prachatai as an independent balance to Thai mainstream media. Prachatai’s four objectives are 1) To provide the Thai public with access to reliable news and information relevant to developing and strengthening the democratic functions of Thai civil society, 2) to focus news coverage on the problems, concerns, activities and accomplishments of local communities and civil society movements and organisations, 3) to strive for freedom and independence of Thai news media and 4) to promote active public participation in Thai news media.

Witness testimony disclosed that mainstream media reported on elite political leaders but Prachatai reported on issues affecting the poor, the marginalised and underprivileged. Jon became acquainted with Chiranuch during their collaboration in campaigns to support people with HIV/AIDS during 1991 and 1992. She became his natural choice for news director of Prachatai as an honest journalist with integrity. Continue reading ““Prachatai gives voice to democracy.”Free speech on trial in Thailand-day 10”

Witness insists director guilty

Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation

Prosecution witness Pol Lieutenant Boonlert Kalayanamitr told the court yesterday that director Chiranuch Premchaiporn had indeed committed a crime by not removing alleged lese majeste remarks posted by others on the site’s bulletin board.

“We notified [Chiranuch] about the comments found on the website, and this is already an offence” under the Computer Crimes Act, Boonlert, the last witness from the prosecution side, told the two presiding judges. He added that the 10 “defamatory remarks” were visible on for 11 days.

Boonlert, who led the police investigation team, said Chiranuch was “very cooperative” when she was asked for the IP addresses of the people who anonymously posted the messages. Only one user’s IP address was tracked down and police could not trace the rest because Internet shops only retain the information of users for a maximum of 90 days. Continue reading “Witness insists director guilty”

Thailand:Chiranuch receives IWMF’s 2011 Courage in Journalism Award

Wed, 11/05/2011 – 07:09 | by prachatai

International Women’s Media Foundation

Three brave women journalists who have risked their lives covering the news have been named the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2011Courage in Journalism Award winners.

Withstanding danger, threats and political pressure, Adela Navarro Bello of Mexico, Parisa Hafezi of Iran and Chiranuch Premchaiporn of Thailand have shown extraordinary dedication covering violence, corruption and social unrest in their countries.

“We are proud to recognize these brave women, who endure the most incredible trials to shed light on the events vital to the nations in which they live,” said IWMF Executive Director Liza Gross. “They exemplify the crucial role of the press in society.”

The 2011 Courage in Journalism Award winners — who will be officially honored in Los Angeles and New York in October – are:

Adela Navarro Bello, Courage in Journalism Award

Adela Navarro Bello, general director and columnist for Zeta news magazine in Mexico, who reports on the escalating violence and corruption in the border city of Tijuana. Navarro Bello, 42, has refused to remain silent, despite repeated warnings that she is being targeted by drug cartels.

Parisa Hafezi, Courage in Journalism Award

Parisa Hafezi, bureau chief for Reuters in Iran, has been beaten, harassed and detained while covering public opposition to the government. Hafezi, 41, is under constant surveillance. Government officials have raided her home and office and threatened her.

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Courage in Journalism Award

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director and webmaster of Prachatai online newspaper in Thailand. Premchaiporn, 43, faces up to 70 years in prison for anti-government comments posted on her website. She has been repeatedly arrested, her offices have been raided and her website has been blocked multiple times by the Thai government. Continue reading “Thailand:Chiranuch receives IWMF’s 2011 Courage in Journalism Award”

Thailand:Media Freedom ??

Free Speech Radio News

This month marks the one year anniversary of protests in Thailand that brought Bangkok to a standstill in 2010. Some 88 people were killed and 1800 injured in the violence. The country still remains in a transition, with Red Shirt protesters taking to the streets and the current government of Abhisit Vejjajiva preparing for an election this year. Following last April’s protests, the government quickly began cracking down on media and FSRN has been following the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, an editor with the news website Prachatai. She faces up to 20 years in prison for her role as a journalist and is accused of publishing comments considered offensive to the monarchy. Her case is being seen as a test of whether or not democracy is returning to Thailand.   FSRN’s Dorian Merina sat down with Premchaiporn in Bangkok for an extensive interview. Today, we bring you the first part, where she discusses her case and the role of media in Thai society. Tune in tomorrow, for the second part of this interview, when Premchaiporn discusses the investigations into last year’s crackdown and the future of political reform in Thailand. You can also see photos and a video of the interview here on our website.

THAILAND: U.N. experts challenge government over lese-majesty case against webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn

(Hong Kong, March 8, 2011) Two United Nations experts have sent “a letter of allegation” concerning the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster on trial in Bangkok for charges of lese-majesty and computer crime, one has revealed in a new report.

According to the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekkaggya in her annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, she sent the letter together with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, on October 1, 2010.

The February 28 report quotes a reply from the government of Thailand that the case was brought on the basis that “views that are disrespectful of the monarchy, or advocate hatred or hostile feelings towards this important national institution, or those which incite hatred or violence are generally unacceptable in the Thai society”.

In a second letter sent in February, the government asked the U.N. rights experts “not to prejudge the decision” of the court hearing the case.

Wong Kai Shing, executive director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, welcomed the U.N. experts’ intervention and said that it showed that the case is attracting more and more interest globally, because people around the world are concerned about the use of Thailand’s draconian lese-majesty and computer crime laws to stifle legitimate debate.  Continue reading “THAILAND: U.N. experts challenge government over lese-majesty case against webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn”

Latest on Prachatai/Chiranuch Premchaiporn trial: next week’s hearings cancelled, trial to resume September

New trial dates for Prachatai/Chiranuch Premchaiporn: Prosecution: September 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 20, 21; Defense: October 11, 12, 13, 14

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