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Thailand : Pravit Rojanapruk

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  • #31
    yep , the Thai junta don't do criticism


    • #32
      Thai junta steps up internet censorship drive
      September 1, 2017

      Democracy campaigners claim tough new powers are 'ripe for abuse'

      Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra talks to the waiting media as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Aug. 1.

      BANGKOK -- After being finger printed and charged with sedition by Thailand's Police Technology Crime Suppression Division in early August, Pravit Rojanaphruk, a Thai journalist, stepped out of its Orwellian confines to make a dramatic point about censorship under military rule. He extended his arms and opened his ink-stained fingers for waiting photographers to snap. "This is the first time I was made to look like a criminal," he said.

      Pravit was back with the police cyber sleuths on Aug. 18 to hear more charges stemming from a clutch of political comments, critical of the junta, posted on his Facebook page, which has 24,500 followers. But the 49-year-old columnist is defiant, despite the threat of a 14-year jail term for violating Article 116 of Thailand's criminal code, which covers sedition. "This is the price I have to pay for criticizing the junta," he said.

      The junta, which overthrew an elected government in May 2014, is making growing use of Article 116 to crush dissent. Alleged offenders face a maximum of seven years in jail on each charge under the clause, which targets expressions or actions "likely to cause disturbances in the country." A week before Pravit was called in by the police, two former cabinet ministers in the pre-coup government were charged in relation to Facebook posts that criticized the country's political and economic environment under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief who heads the junta and led Thailand's 12th successful coup.

      According to iLaw, a Thai freedom of expression documentation center, more than 60 people have been charged with sedition since the 2014 coup -- a new and chilling benchmark for silencing dissent. The alleged offenders range from Thais who have made online statements against the junta to those distributing anti-junta leaflets. One had a created a Facebook post mocking Prayuth, while another was targeted for giving flowers to pro-democracy activists during a peaceful march in Bangkok, iLaw said. The International Federation for Human Rights, a Paris-based global rights watchdog, said that, "In most cases, the sedition charges stemmed from an overzealous, and sometimes inexplicable, application of Article 116."


      The junta has also taken to task scores of Thais for violating Article 112 of the criminal code -- the lese-majeste law, which protects the reputations of senior members of the country's royal family. The law threatens violators with jail terms of three to 15 years for expressing views deemed to insult the king, queen, heir-apparent or regent. According to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights nearly 290 Thais have been investigated for expressing views that may have violated the law between 2014 and 2016. Other human rights groups say that 90 people have been arrested for alleged lese-majeste since the junta grabbed power, including 45 who were subsequently sentenced to prison terms of up to 35 years by military courts. Immediately before the coup, by contrast, only six people were in jail for lese-majeste.

      By invoking articles 112 and 116, the junta has brought Facebook to the fore of its censorship efforts. The U.S.-based social media platform is widely used in Thailand, which has an estimated 47 million Facebook accounts for a population of 68 million people. Among them are hundreds of Thais who use the online outlet to vent their opinions about post-coup politics, forward anti-establishment messages and press the "like" icon to approve critical posts. "Social media is the new public sphere, but it is a Wild West for the military to control," Pravit said, chuckling.

      The regime seems determined to continue to wield a big stick, claiming that posts on Facebook amount to a "national security threat." In the six months to June this year it asked Facebook to block 300 posts in Thailand, compared with requests relating to 80 posts between May 2014 and December 2016. "Facebook is not a threat, but the contents in Facebook are a threat," said Lt. Gen. Werachon Sukhondhapatipak, a government spokesman. "Social media is something we have to handle properly, and those responsible for security for the country will judge."

      In line with this approach, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, an independent regulator, has taken on a new mission to force Facebook to conform to the lese-majeste laws. The NBTC has twice asked Facebook to remove contents critical of the monarchy, claiming it had legal authority. But after the social media outlet stood its ground -- removing some, but not all the disputed contents -- the NBTC retreated, dropping a threat to block access to Facebook. "Facebook has removed 1,039 of 2,556 URLs," Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, told reporters in early August, referring to web pages that had been taken down between May and mid-July.

      The regulator's demands for content suppression, together with an attempt to get Facebook to register in Thailand as a broadcasting company, or lose lucrative advertising revenue, reflect a change of tack from its pre-coup approach of declining to regulate Facebook. "Before, the NBTC was never interested in regulating Facebook, because it knew it had no authority to do so," Supinya Klangnarong, a former NBTC commissioner, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "Now, the NBTC is attempting to define Facebook as a broadcaster by using the OTT (over-the-top-services) approach." Supinya added: "This way it will have authority to control Facebook." OTT refers to content that is distributed over the internet, bypassing traditional distribution channels.


      • #33
        International Press Freedom Awards

        Pravit Rojanaphruk, Thailand

        CPJ is honored to present its 2017 International Press Freedom Award to Thai journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk.

        Pravit Rojanaphruk is one of Thailand's most prominent critical reporters and a long-time advocate for press freedom. He is currently a columnist and senior staff writer for Khaosod English (Fresh News), a website established in 2013 that publishes critical coverage of Thailand's junta. Before that, he worked for more than 20 years with the local English-language newspaper The Nation.

        In May 2014, Pravit was summoned and detained incommunicado for a week soon after military coup-makers seized power. In September 2015, he was summoned again to a military base, where he was blindfolded, driven for over an hour to a house with closed windows, and held incommunicado in a four-by-four-meter room by plainclothes military officials. Pravit said he thought he could be disappeared permanently during that time.

        Samples of Pravit Rojanaphruk's work

        Upon his release two days later without charge, military officials threatened to freeze his bank account if he continued to criticize the regime, he told CPJ at the time. As a condition of his release, he was forced to sign a form pledging not to become involved in any anti-junta activities.

        The ruling National Council for Peace and Order junta told reporters that Pravit was detained because he had written articles that "could cause confusion and misunderstandings" and which "go against the [Council's] efforts to keep public order." Days after his release, the president of The Nation newspaper, where Pravit had been employed for 23 years, asked him to resign to avoid the paper facing government pressure. The paper's president, Pana Janviroj, told local media that Pravit's resignation was "mutual" for both sides and that The Nation's editorial stance had not changed due to the incident.

        Pravit has maintained his critical tone and probing reporting style despite being under military threat. In particular, he has closely chronicled and critiqued the military regime's harsh crackdown on anti-royal sentiment, where scores of Thais have been imprisoned under draconian lese majeste laws that allow for three to 15-year prison penalties for any criticism of the Thai royal family. In May 2016, the junta barred him from leaving the country to attend a UNESCO-organized event for World Press Freedom Day in Helsinki, Finland.

        Media freedom in Thailand has deteriorated significantly under military rule. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has imposed various measures that give the government broad authority to muzzle the media. Those include military orders that ban news reporting that could "create confusion, instigate unrest, or deepen divisions among people" or could be considered "malicious" or "misleading." Another executive order empowers the state broadcasting commission to shutter media outlets for reasons of national security, without the right of appeal.

        Press freedom in Thailand has deteriorated under military rule. Journalists should be allowed to report freely #IPFA

        In February, CPJ wrote a public letter to Prime Minister Prayuth, calling on him to scrap draft legislation that would impose new government controls on privately owned media and journalists, and to ask the military-appointed legislature to repeal amendments to the 2007 Computer Crime Act passed in December that gives the government sweeping powers to censor the Internet. The legislation is still pending.

        CPJ also highlighted Pravit's case in a February 2016 letter to former U.S. President Barack Obama in advance of a high-level meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In the letter, CPJ urged Obama to prioritize press freedom improvements in a country that has experienced significant declines in freedoms under heavy-handed military rule.

        Stay connected! Follow CPJ's Asia program on Twitter for updates on Pravit's case. Click here to follow Pravit on Twitter or view CPJ's coverage of Thailand.


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