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geert on Thu, 22 Jun 2006 19:38:31 +0200 (CEST)


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----------  Forwarded Message  ----------

Subject: for nettime
Date: Thursday, 22. June 2006 13:19
From: x {AT} avu.cz
To: geert {AT} xs4all.nl

Dear Geert,

this sent me Keiko Sei and asked me to post it on nettime, what do you
think?
sorry to bother you,

all the best

Michael Bielicky (Prague)

text


  Thailand, like any other country in South East Asia, doesn't enjoy the
freedom of expression. Intimidation, harassment, extra-judicial killing
against journalists and activists are not uncommon. During the Thaksin
administration, commercial pressure on newspapers, TV and radio, and
take-over of media companies became rampant. Besides all these ills,
Thailand has an exceptional problem: the lese majeste law. The law,
which is regarded obsolete in the modern nation states, still exists in
Thailand and is executed perhaps more than any country in the world.
The number of lese majeste cases have increased in recent years,
together with defamation cases, and these two charges are mostly used
for political purpose to silence critics of the government. Recently,
the government has targeted a political magazine called Fah Diew Kan.
 
Fah Diew Kan is perhaps one of the bravest media in Thailand. Each
issue publishes critical articles on the corrupt government policies,
the neglect of the human right by the state and etc.. In 2004 it faced
the legal action when it distributed VCD of killing of innocent
citizens by the government force in the South (see the following appeal
by the Asian Human Rights Commission). This quarterly is also
educational and informative, each issue contains regular media literacy
pages and the detailed report on civil actions in other countries. Yet
what makes this magazine stand out in Thailand more than any of these
policies, is its articles on the monarchy. This is completely a taboo
subject in Thailand if you determine to criticize any part of the
monarchy and no Thai media dares to touch it. The magazine picked the
monarchy issue successively in the two latest issues: Oct/Dec 2005
issue dealt with the institution of monarchy, and Jan/March 2006 issue
brought out the problem of the crown property, talking about how the
crown property bureau is exploiting from the poor and how it is linked
with the government and Thaksin Sinawatra's Sin corp.
 
During the period of anti-Thaksin campaign by civic opposition groups
early this year, the page of the Oct/Dec. 2005 issue was read out by a
group that call themselves Caravan of Poor, which is said to have a
link with the government. The issue was immediately banned under the
pretext that "it may upset public order or morality". And afterwards,
the publisher and editor of the magazine, Thanapol Eawsakul, was
charged with lese majeste. 
 
Please read the following statement from the Asian Human Rights
Commission for more detail of the incident and sign the petition for
lifting the ban of the Thai magazine Fah Diew Kan and the charge of
lese majeste against the publisher/editor. Please note that after AHRC
had made the following statement on March 31 2006 before the
publisher/editor was charged with lese majeste on April 1, so the lese
majeste charge is not included in the statement below. Hence when you
write a letter of appeal please state on both the ban and the charge.
Additionally, please state that you will continuously care about the
magazine and you object any intimidation against the magazine in the
future. This is because we expect more intimidation against this
magazine as long as it has guts to publish investigative and critical
articles that the authority doesn't want to hear.
Campaign group Friends of Fah Diew Kan
You can send the letter of support or any question regarding the case
to the publisher/editor of Fah Diew Kan, Thanapol Eawsakul
<thanapol73 {AT} hotmail.com>
 
URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

  ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

  Urgent Appeal

  31 March 2006
  ------------------------------------------------------
UA-112-2006: THAILAND: Interior Minister bans magazine for publishing
articles on Thai monarchy

  THAILAND: Intimidation and threats to media, denial of freedom of
speech
------------------------------------------------------

  Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that
a Thai magazine has been accused of causing "public disorder and
affecting moral standards" by publishing articles about the monarchy.
The action appears to be an attempt at silencing the publishers of the
magazine, who are known for their forthright opinions. However, it is
in violation of the freedom of expression as set down in the
Constitution of Thailand, and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR). The manner in which it has been conducted
also appears to violate Thai administrative law.

  The magazine, Fah Diew Kan, published several articles in its Oct-Dec
2005 edition on the Thai monarchy. Subsequently, on 30 March 2006, a
notice was sent to the magazine editor, Thanapol Eawsakul, signed by
the chief of police, Pol. Gen. Kovit, demanding that Mr. Thanapol stop
selling his magazine because it "may upset public order or morality".

  According to news reports, the articles were read out to some members
of the public who had gathered in support of the embattled prime
minister, which triggered 'disorderliness'. Therefore the order to ban
the magazine's distribution was issued in accordance with article 9 of
the Publication Act BE 2484 (1941), which states that the police have
the right to prohibit the distribution of the magazine and seize
existing copies.

  However, there are numerous problems with the order to ban the
magazine.

  First, section 39 of the 1997 Constitution of Thailand guarantees
freedom of speech. The magazine was merely expressing an opinion in
accordance with this section of the constitution, and was not aimed at
causing disorderliness.

  Secondly, the action taken by Pol. Gen. Kovit was under instruction of
the Ministry of Interior, and therefore is an administrative order.
Under articles 30 and 37 of the Administrative Procedure Act BE 2539
(1996), before a state officer gives notice an opportunity must be
given to the other party to access the facts and present their own
evidence in their defence. However, the caretaker Minister of Interior
never gave the editor of Fah Diew Kan an opportunity to contest the
allegation.

  Thirdly, the order is non-specific. It does not indicate which part of
the magazine is offensive or critical of the Thai monarchy.

  According to Mr. Thanapol, the magazine's aim was never to be
offensive but to offer the public an alternative perspective on the
monarchy. He is planning an appeal against the order. He has seven days
in which to do this. The basis of this appeal will be that the notice
was not in line with procedures laid down by the Administrative
Procedure Act and is in violation of the freedom of opinion and
expression under domestic and international law.


  ADDITIONAL REMARKS

  This is not the first time that the magazine has come under attack. In
2004 the publishers faced down possible legal action after distributing
a VCD of security forces attacking unarmed crowds in the south of
Thailand (see AHRC-PL-110-2004).

  In recent years, independent media in Thailand have been targeted
through legal action, defamation and libel charges. Recently, media
reform campaigner Supinya Klangnarong won a criminal defamation case
lodged against her by the corporation formerly owned by the family of
the prime minister ( UP-046-2006). Community radio stations have come
under increasing attack, and a farmer lost a case against his station
on the ground that it breached antiquated broadcast regulations
(UP-024-2006 ). The sister organisation of the AHRC, the Asian Legal
Resource Centre, raised his case as one of special concern in a written
submission to the UN this year (E/CN.4/2006/NGO/63). The UN Human
Rights Committee also raised its concerns about declining freedom of
expression in Thailand in its concluding observations to the country's
report under the ICCPR last year:

  "The Committee is concerned about reports of intimidation and
harassment against local and foreign journalists and media personnel as
well as of defamation suits against them, originating at the highest
political level... The State party [Thailand] should take adequate
measures to prevent further erosion of freedom of expression, in
particular, threats to and harassment of media personnel and
journalists, and ensure that such cases are investigated promptly and
that suitable action is taken against those responsible, regardless of
rank or status." [ CCPR/CO/84/THA, 28 July 2005, para. 18]

  ______________________________

  PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

  ACM Kongsak Wantana
  Caretaker Minister of Interior
  Office of the Ministry of Interior
  Atsadang Road
  Bangkok 10200
  THAILAND
  Fax: +662 226 4371/ 222 8866
  Email: ommoi {AT} moi.go.th

  PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

  1. Pol. Gen. Kovit Wattana
  Commissioner-General
  Royal Thai Police
  1st Bldg, 7th Floor
  Rama I, Patumwan
  Bkk 10330
  THAILAND
  Fax: +66 2 251 5956/ 205 3738/ 255 1975-8
  Email: kovit {AT} police.go.th

  2. Pol. Lt. Col. Dr Thaksin Shinawatra
  Caretaker Prime Minister
  Government House
  Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
  Bangkok 10300
  THAILAND
  Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
  Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
  E-mail: thaksin {AT} thaigov.go.th or govspkman {AT} mozart.inet.co.th

  3. Pol. Gen. Chidchai Wanasatidya
  Caretaker Minister of Justice
  Office of the Ministry of Justice
  Ministry of Justice Building
  22nd Floor Software Park Building,
  Chaeng Wattana Road
  Pakkred, Nonthaburi
  Bangkok 11120
  THAILAND
  Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
  Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
  Email: ommoj {AT} moj.go.th ; chidchai {AT} moj.go.th

  4. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
  Chairperson
  The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
  422 Phya Thai Road
  Pathum Wan District
  Bangkok 10300
  THAILAND
  Tel: +662 2219 2980
  Fax: +66 2 219 2940
  E-mail: commission {AT} nhrc.or.th or saneh {AT} nhrc.or.th

  5. Ms. Hina Jilani
  Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights
defenders
  Att: Melinda Ching Simon
  Room 1-040, c/o OHCHR-UNOG
  1211 Geneva 10
  SWITZERLAND
  Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
  Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS
DEFENDERS)
  E-mail: MChingSimon {AT} ohchr.org

  6. Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo
  Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression
  c/o J Deriviero
  OHCHR-UNOG
  8-14 Avenue de la Paix
  1211 Geneva 10
  SWITZERLAND
  Tel: +41 22 917 9177
  Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION)
  Email: jderiviero {AT} ohchr.org or urgent-action {AT} ohchr.org  
Sample letter
 
Dear ACM Kongsak,

This is to request you to lift the ban of the Oct-Dec 2005 edition of
the magazine Fah Diew Kan, which was noticed on 28 March 2006 and the
charge of lese majeste against the publisher/editor Thanapol Eawsakul
that was noticed on 1 April 2006.
 
The notice no. 0028.143/1922 signed by Pol. Gen. Kovit Wattana on 28
March 2006 instructing editor Thanapol Eawsakul on 30 March 2006 to
stop the distribution of the Oct-Dec 2005 edition on the ground that
its contents on the monarchy "may upset public order or morality".
Numerous organizations on human right and press freedom, journalist
associations, both Thai and international, have already collected
evidence that this is not the case. The banned issue of the magazine
and the publisher have moral ground to work for the benefit of the
society and never intend to cause any disorder or harm morality of Thai
people. Besides, the whole procedure of the charge is against the Thai
constitution, it has failed to comply with correct administrative
procedure. It also violates national and international laws on freedom
of expression.
 
The affair has reached attention of citizens in Europe, United States
and Latin America. We, citizens of the world community, cannot tolerate
any violation of right and freedom of our fellow citizens. We care,
give our attentions to, and support the freedom of Fah Diew Kan, now
and the future.

 
Please act immediately to lift the ban and the charge.
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
 
 

--



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