RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 20, 2010: It’s no secret that the Thai government is actively blocking websites that support, the United Front for Democracy (UDD) “red-shirt” protest but the extent of this blocking and monitoring has only just come to light – along with a threat to bloggers and users of social networks such as the micro-blogging platform, Twitter.
The Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES) is the latest to censor the internet and last week said it had ordered the Thai Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) to close 190 websites, of which over 60 percent (about 114) are claimed to be politically seditious.
The CRES also said that since the red-shirts protest began on March 14, the MICT has been blocking 500 websites a day, ad due to the the provisions of the state of emergency (SoE) doing it without the requirement of any court order or due process.
According to an article on FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand, “it takes less than 10 minutes”. That’s 83½ man-hours per day at taxpayer expence to block the Internet! More than 10 full-time civil servants working eight hours a day to block the Web.
In addition to the MICT and CRES, the Royal Thai Police, Ministry of Culture, Royal Thai Army, and the National Defence College are all also monitoring and blocking websites.
More concerning though is a one line section in a story published by the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) has been overlooked by most people.
The excerpt states: internet users have been warned to use the internet in the right way or with appropriate purpose and avoid disseminating information that could create misunderstanding or instigate violent actions among the public. Also, all popular websites and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Hi5 and MySpace will be under thorough watch.
For the full story and how the Thai government is threatening users of social networks and restricting free speech on the ongoing pro-democracy rally see: Social Media “Under Thorough Watch” In Thailand
RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 20, 2010: Respected international publication The Economist has accused Thailand’s Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, of hypocrisy and commented on the discipline shown by red-shirt protesters.
The publication states: In 2008 he called on the then prime minister to resign after two yellow-shirt protesters had died. In general the pro-Thaksin red shirts have shown greater discipline recently than the yellow shirts did then. The red shirts also have a stronger case: that the prime minister and his cobbled-together ruling coalition lack a popular mandate. It would be humiliating, but Mr Abhisit should offer an early election. Better to cede power that way than in a coup or bloody insurrection.
In a balanced report, the publication also criticizes the government for refusing to call an early election and the UDD for refusing to negotiate with the government.
The full article can be found here: Angels with bloody hands
RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 20, 2010: Thai Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd today told reporters that the army would no longer “use the soft to hard steps” in dealing with United Front for Democracy (UDD) red-shirt protesters.
“If they try to break the line, we will start using tear gas, and if they do break the line, we need to use weapons to deal with them decisively”, he said.
Full report here: Thai army says plans to get tough with protesters