The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for the military leaders to respect the independence and rights of the media in Thailand after last night’s coup, which saw tanks roll into Bangkok and martial law declared.
In a broadcast on all Thai television channels, the leadership of the armed forces said it had taken control of Bangkok. The BBC, CNN and other international news channels were reportedly taken off the air and Thai stations carried images of the royal family and patriotic songs.
“This has grave implications for press freedom and democracy in Thailand,” IFJ President, Christopher Warren said.
“In light of these recent events the IFJ is concerned about the disintegration of freedom of expression in Thailand and we strongly urge the coup leaders to take immediate action to ensure the media and its freedoms are protected,” Warren said.
According to news reports, the coup leaders have abolished the cabinet and parliament however they insist power will be returned to the people.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is currently in New York meeting with the United Nations and has not said whether he intends to return to Thailand.
There are also reports military personnel have been posted outside media offices.
“The leaders of this coup must understand that now more than ever the people of Thailand are depending on the media for information,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
“The coup leaders must show a commitment to freedom of the press and to immediately allow journalists and the public full access to events as they unfold and to restore local access to international news channels,” Warren said.
“A free and independent media is crucial to reaching a peaceful resolution to the current situation,” Warren said.
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries