Joint Statement of Media Professional Organisations
Threats against the Media during the Riots in Bangkok
In reference to the Center for Resolution of Emergency Situations’ ordered use of forces to pressure protesters of United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on May 19 which prompted UDD leader to end the protest and triggered waves of riots staged by some angry protesters including arson attacks on several state and private properties. We also note that during the clashes between the security forces and defiant protesters in this operation and ensuing riots, Italian photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi was shot dead in the cross-fires while three other journalists from Britain, the Netherlands and Canada were injured.
We also learned that protesters at several satellite rally stages in Bangkok’s downtown in Victory Monument and Klong Toey intersection have accused the media of being impartial and called out to their fellow protesters to lynch the media including staging arson attacks on properties and building of newspapers and radio and television stations. The office of state-owned Channel 3 and English-language Bangkok Post were among the target of such attacks. The arson attack caused disruption to the TV station’s regular broadcast while Bangkok Post had to evacuate its staff upon learning of the attack thanks to the help of people in its neighborhood.
In this regard, Thai Journalists Association (TJA) and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) would like to express our sincere condolence to the family and colleagues of Fabio Polenghi. We would like to stress here to all sides that the media is not a party to the conflict but “our duty is to get the truth out to the public”. Thus, the media should not be a target of threats and intimidation by any form.
Given the incidents cited above, we would like to make the following calls;
1. We condemn all forms of threats and intimidation against the media practitioners and attacks on the media offices, especially the actions taken by UDD protesters which not only destroyed public properties but also terrorized the media practitioners and infringe upon freedom of information of the people. We urge UDD protesters to immediately cease these acts of threats.
2. We urge government officials who are responsible for keeping peace and order to fully ensure the media’s safety, by not letting them, regardless of which organization they work for, become targets of threats and intimidation.
In times of difficulty faced by the nation as a result of the intrinsic political conflicts that inevitably have devastating effects on people’s state of mind as well as the economy and the national image, we call upon the media to fully observer their professional ethics in performing their duty to bring out the truth to the public, in a fair and comprehensive manner and without fear of threats of all forms.
Thai Journalists Association
Thai Broadcast Journalists Association
20 May 2010