Media Covering Thailand’s Political Conflict Faces Attacks, Harassment

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BANGKOK, May 8 – The media covering the ongoing political conflict in Thailand have increasingly become the target of harassment although many incidents affecting them have gone unreported. In recent months, some local and foreign journalists have chosen not to report attacks on them and acts of intimidation in the hope that this will prevent the media from becoming a bigger part of the story than is warranted, according to a statement from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT). The latest incident occurred on Wednesday outside the Constitutional Court during coverage of a crucial verdict against former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, it said.

It was the second attack in six months on German photojournalist Nick Nostitz, and again involved guards attached to the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), FCCT said. It said in the incident, Nostitz was at the time sitting close to the court’s entrance and wearing a green Thai Journalists’ Association (TJA) armband, clearly identifying him as a member of the press. Having been singled out, Nostitz was told to come and see “Luang Bu”, it said. FCCT said he was shoved hard in the chest and pushed around when he declined, and the guards attempted to take him with them.

Police intervened after shouts from Nostitz and another journalist. Nostitz took shelter inside the courthouse and was eventually smuggled away from the scene in a police vehicle. Credit was due to everyone who contributed to defusing this incident, FCCT said. “At this difficult time in Thailand’s political development, the FCCT calls on the political groups involved to honour pledges that have been made to allow journalists to work unobstructed, irrespective of their media organisation or nationality. “Harassment of the media is unconstitutional and hinders objective coverage of a complex and evolving political situation. It also distracts attention from issues of public interest,” it added in the statement.

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