Bangkok, Thailand, May 16th, 2010..…
The Thai government has never liked the news media, blocking websites, banning Thai newspapers from reporting certain news and threatening journalists who don’t conform, but now the Thai military is shooting journalists and that’s unacceptable. In the last 36 hours, four journalists have been shot in the violence between the Thai military and anti-government protesters. Three Thais and a Canadian. The Canadian was shot once then, as he lay screaming “Help me”, he was shot two more times.
Yesterday evening, the fourth journalist, this time a Thai senior photographer from The Nation newspaper in Bangkok, was shot in the leg and transported, in serious condition, to hospital. With four journalists now having been shot by the Thai military, is the government targeting journalists and, if so, why?
On Friday night, during a BBC interview, a government spokesperson was asked if the military were targeting journalists. The government spokesperson replied that they had been “given freedom” to report, but with the disdain in his voice, and the answering sneer from the BBC interviewer, you could only imagine what his comments really meant. That the journalists shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Of course, the Thai government would love journalists to stay away from this increasingly violent situation in Bangkok. Because then, of course, they could continue the army’s indiscriminate shooting into crowds of innocent protesters with no possible recourse. With journalists in the middle taking video footage and photographs though, it’s difficult to hide what’s really going on and, for that, I’m sure the government is frustrated. Currently, that’s also likely the reason why the government is now talking about instituting a curfew. After all, when you have a curfew, that also extends to journalists who can no longer be out on the streets documenting government abuse.
From speaking to many Thais in Bangkok today, it’s also looking like public sentiment is beginning to sway away from the government and moving towards the red shirt protesters. Twenty five deaths have already been recorded in the last two days and more than 200 people injured. Now, with four journalists having been shot, you really have to ask yourself, who is the government telling the army to shoot and why?
Added at 4:30pm, Bangkok time – Reports coming in another reporter has just been shot. A Thai cameraman for Thai TV channel PTV was shot in the back by Thai military snipers while lying on the ground. Luckily, he was wearing a bullet proof vest, which the bullet did not penetrate. He’s now being taken to hospital in Bangkok for treatment for a severe injury.