The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has concerns for the safety of Thai journalists and warns against an emerging trend of violence directed towards the media following the brutal murder of a local Thai newspaper publisher and freelance reporter and a bomb attack against the headquarters of Manager Media Group.
“These two incidents suggest a new disturbing trend of violence against the media in Thailand,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.
On the morning of November 2, Santi Lamaneenil was found dead in the back of his car outside the beach resort of Pattaya.
He was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the head and initial autopsy reports show he had been dead for around 10 hours. In an act of further cruelty, his attackers blindfolded Santi and tied his hands with the cord of a mobile phone battery charger.
“The IFJ condemns this horrific murder, and calls on the Thai Government and police department to do everything in their power to bring Santi’s killers to justice,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.
Local police chief Jongrak Juthanond said investigators believe there were at least three assailants. Police are still investigating whether the motive is connected to Santi’s work as a journalist.
Santi owned the local newspaper Pattaya Post and also contributed freelance work to Channel 7 television and other national newspapers, including Khaosod.
He had recently reported on illegal operations in late-night entertainment venues, which may have been a contributing factor in his death.
Santi’s wife told police that he had often stayed with various relatives in recent months because he feared for his safety.
“The IFJ is always deeply saddened to lose a colleague, particularly in such violent circumstances. We offer our sincere condolences to Santi Lamaneenil’s wife, family and co-workers,” said the IFJ president.
The pattern of violence directed towards the media was continued when a bomb went off at Ban Phra Arthit, the headquarters of Manager Media Group at 10pm on Thursday November 3.
According to reports from a security guard, a bomb was dropped over the two-meter wall around the building compound. No one was injured in the blast that only caused damage to the foliage planted along the interior of the concrete wall.
A number of different motives are being circulated for the attack, including an attempt to threaten Sondhi Limthongkul, the founder of Manager Media Group and an outspoken critic of the government.
“The IFJ condemns the use of violence against the media and calls on the Thai authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attack are brought to justice,” said Warren.
These two incidents follow the bomb blast in Manag district on October 7, which injured three Channel 7 media workers who were in the south covering PM Thaksin’s visit.
Cameraman Thanongsak Kiaovilai was hit in the hip by shrapnel and reporter Chada Somboonphol suffered minor injuries to her head and arm.
The bomb was placed under a tree in front of a roadside eatery and was remotely detonated by a mobile phone. Police have blamed the attacks on Muslim militants and said the target was government officials and not the reporters.
For more information IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 656 668
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries worldwide