Netizens, Thais condemn media gag

Netizens, Thais condemn media gag
NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha last week instructed the Army to establish reconciliation centres across the country to resolve differences between colour-coded political factions.

Thais and expatriates have taken to social media to condemn attempts by armed forces to censor and stifle the media since taking power in a coup on Thursday evening.

Leftist activist Giles Ji Ungpakorn commented on his Facebook page that "Prayut (Chan-O-Cha) dispensed with the charade of receiving orders from the king. He just announced his power grab by himself, pushing the monarchy aside and exposing its total lack of power in the face of the military."

"The last time the army raided bookshops and libraries in Thailand was on Oct 6,1976. Now they are doing it again and increasing Internet and website censorship," he added.

Thai journalists, such as Bangkok Post senior news reporter Achara Ashayagachat have also taken to social media to comment on the coup.

"Niwatthamrong Bunsongpaisal is the shortest-lived PM. 16 days in office, thanks to the coup @4.30 pm. Thawee Bounyaket had 17 days in office," he said via his Twitter account @AAshayagachat.

This media shutdown has also been criticised by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) in a press release, which took the military government to task for shutting down news channels, which they noted "conveniently avoided members of the mainstream media associations."

"The shutdown of these channels - though highly politicised and in the control of political protagonists - has targeted the relatively newer channels of information that has represented the recent expansion of media freedoms in Thailand, away from the docile mainstream print media and the state or army-controlled broadcast media," it said.

It added that the martial law authority was focused on suppressing criticism of Thai armed forces, and not on containing inciting and polarising speech that fuelled violence and conflict.

It added that orders from the Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC) have been "chillingly focused on the media and free expression" including the prohibition of the sale, distribution of any content which can cause fear and misunderstanding of the military's actions".

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