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One reporter dead, another injured, by bomb blast while on assignment in conflict-ridden southern province

(TJA/IFEX) - The following is a 22 August 2008 TJA press release:

Open Letter of Confederation of Thai Journalists, Thai Journalists Association and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association on the Death of a Print Reporter and the Injury of a TV Reporter in the Conflict Situation in the Three Southern-most Provinces

(. . .) Bomb explosions in front of a Si Som restaurant in the municipality of Sungai Kolok District Narathiwat province on the night of August 21 (. . .) injured a great number of people and police officers on duty and, among other things, instantly killed Chalee Boonsawas, reporter of "Thai Rath" newspaper, and severely injured Phadung Wannalak, a reporter of ModernNINE TV.

The Confederation of Thai Journalists, Thai Journalists' Association and Thai Broadcast Journalists' Association would like to express our sincere regret for Chalee's family's loss and offer moral support to Phadung (and our wishes for her) quick recovery from the injury. In this regard, the three organizations provided initial financial support to the families of both victims.

The three organizations view this incident as a great loss to the Thai media community because it is the first time that a reporter has been killed in the conflict situation in the three southern-most provinces, although over the past five years of the on-going violence, there were several reporters injured while on duty in the areas.

However, it is evident that this loss has been incurred as a result of (performing) a journalistic duty to get facts and information on the incident in order to keep the public informed.

The three organizations have long acknowledged the fact that reporting in these three provinces, beset with violent conflicts, is as risky as hanging on the wire. We therefore warned reporters to perform their duties with great caution, advice which was well-heeded. However, with the great spirit of journalists, when an incident occurs, they have to go out to get facts, photos and information in the field, no matter the risks.

"This is a spirit of journalism that deserves respect and honor. Despite the risk (to his) life, he was determined to perform the duty of finding the truth and this demonstrates a life behind (the) words and photos that appear before the public's eyes."

Finally, the three organizations reaffirm that we want to see a quick restoration of tranquility and peace in the three provinces because we want to see our people enjoy the freedom of living without fear generated by, and violence committed by, militant groups. We, therefore, urge all sides to cease using violence and stop harming innocent people.

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