Riot police guard a barricade in Bangkok. Photo: Flickr/ilf_
In the article “Thai freedom of expression: Waiting for the dawn,” Walakkamol Changkamol writes that “the increase of political conflict in Thailand from late 2013 to 2014 contributed to the downfall of freedom of expression and freedom of information both on the public and personal levels.”
Now, “we are now going back to the age of top down communication from the head of state to the people, the communication model that used to be in Thailand 50 years ago,” says Changkamol, an assistant professor in communication at the Faculty of Communication Sciences, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand.
The historical background: in November 2013, there were protests against Prime Minister Yinglak Shinnawatra, with the goal of ousting the government. Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinnawatra was said to be involved with and manipulating the movement behind the scenes, notes Changkamol.
The protest began after Parliament passed an amnesty bill that would have pardoned offences of politicians and people behind political movements, but it was not passed by the Senate. The protest ended in May 2014 when the coup d’état took place, with the current head of state being General Prayut Chano-cha.
An online news agency has compiled information and produced a timeline showing the threats to media freedom from 2013 to 2014 (Prachatai News Agency, 2014). The report shows that there were over 20 incidents of physical force or verbal confrontation. All are considered intimidating violence.
When the military government took over, freedom of information and freedom of expression became even more restricted. The military authority announced a state of abnormality and it is controlling matters in accordance with the national security principles, writes Changkamol.
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