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Media groups slam Red Shirts for intimidating journalists

(TJA/IFEX) - 1 May 2010 - The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association (TBJA) condemn the acts of intimidation of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) against media workers in connection with UDD leader Jatiporn Promphan's press conference during which he claimed that there was a concentration of security forces at Chulalongkorn Hospital who would disperse the UDD protesters, known as the Red Shirts, in Rajprasong, which is part of Bangkok's business center.

During the press conference on the night of 29 April 2010, a reporter asked Jatuporn whether he had photos to back up his claim. In return, Jatuporn not only avoided direct answers but also showed his furious contempt at the reporter. He even challenged and threatened the journalist to join the protesters in going to the hospital to find out the truth. This is an act of intimidation against journalistic works and an attempt to hold the media hostage to the Red-Shirt invasion of the hospital.

Also, because the said press conference - aired by the UDD leaders through amplifiers in the rally site - was heard by the majority of the protesters, Jatuporn virtually provoked the Red Shirts to raid the hospital.

Given this situation, TJA and TBJA urge the UDD to cease such acts and urge all UDD leaders to stop threatening the media workers, as follows:

1. Media workers are not a contesting party to the UDD protesters and adhere to the principles of impartiality and social responsibility. Therefore, we urge the leaders and the protesters to cease any action that is perceived as threatening or intimidating to the media and instigating violence;

2. We urge UDD leaders to find an alternative approach to the broadcast of press conference via amplifiers because under this setting, media workers could not only work freely but also feel threatened by the surrounding crowd of protesters and by their jeers every time the reporters asked questions the protesters did not like, which is an abuse of media's rights;

Finally, both organizations would like to give moral encouragement to all media workers during this time of crisis and urge all media organizations to treat the safety of journalists as their priority.

Thai Journalists Association
Thai Broadcast Journalists Association

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