Safety of journalists in jeopardy in Thai political unrest

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses its ongoing concern for Thai journalists after the wounding of another reporter at an anti-government protest and repeats its call for the legalisation of body armour for journalists in Thailand. Ms Sithinee Huangnak, working for the Post Today newspaper, was taken to hospital after an explosive device was thrown near a press tent at Victory Monument in Bangkok on Sunday January 19. At least 28 people were reported injured in the attack. The IFJ said this latest incident highlights the volatile political climate ahead of the February 2 general election. Anti-government protests have been ongoing in Thailand since October and the climate is expected to intensify in the coming weeks. “The IFJ calls on all journalists working in Thailand to exercise caution while covering this volatile media environment,” IFJ Director, Jacqueline Park said, reiterating the IFJ’s safety guidelines providing practical advice and information for journalists covering events in the capital city. Two foreign reporters were shot dead in political protests in the country in 2010, while last December a photographer was injured by a rubber bullet while covering clashes in Bangkok. There have also been reports that on Monday, 13 January, a foreign media reporter was manhandled and threatened by guards for taking photos near Bangkok police headquarters.

The IFJ issued a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on January 8, requesting the government review its prohibition on the import and possession of body armour. Currently it is illegal in Thailand for both local and foreign journalists to obtain protective equipment.