The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged at reports that three Thai radio stations were shut down soon after airing an interview with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
IFJ president Christopher Warren said the closures of Confidante, Taxi Driver Community Radio and Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship appeared to be blatant intimidation against media outlets who challenge the government.
“The current military-appointed government’s record of respecting press freedom grows weaker and weaker every day, which also seriously undermines its promises of an eventual democracy with free elections,” Warren said.
According to local reports, Thaksin gave his first interview since the September 2006 coup to Confidante from London, and it was also broadcast on Taxi Driver Community Radio and Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship.
Hours after the interview was aired, government officials showed up at the Confidante offices, confiscated the recording of the interview, and shut the station down.
“The people of Thailand need to have access to information on both sides of the political divide in order to be able to make an informed decision during the upcoming election,” Warren said.
Legal proceedings have since begun against Confidante and Taxi Driver Community Radio, and the server for Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship has been blocked. The station is only available via the internet.
This is at least the second time in six months that Saturday Voice has been blocked by the government, and 3000 other stations have reportedly been warned to heed the behaviour of these three broadcasters.
“These actions by the current Thai government show an utter disregard for press freedom, and if the country is to have a democratic future, they cannot continue on in this manner,” Warren said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries