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Thai’s government threatened to censor news agency as protests continue

Thai authorities threatened a media censorship to stop protests in Thailand, which have continued daily since the government declared state of emergency last week.

On October 16, a government order was passed that allowed authorities to censor online news agencies that distribute contents that are considered to be a “national security threat” or that “could cause panic”. At a briefing on Monday October 19, police confirmed that the order had not been enforced yet, and content removal would be on a case-by-case basis. Thai authorities also asked internet and phone service providers to block access to messaging application Telegram, used by the protesters in recent days to communicate.

Many news agencies have expressed discontent with the government regarding the order. Prachatai, which is continuing to post updates on Twitter, said it was “honored” to report accurate information on human rights and political developments in Thailand, and said “we’ll try our best in continuing to do so.” The Thai Enquirer called for the order to be cancelled, saying the government should “read the content of new and digital media to understand the grievances and viewpoints of the people it claims to represent.”

Despite this move by the government, thousands of protesters rallied in Bangkok for the sixth straight day on Monday, sending no regards to the ban on gatherings and threats of police force. So far, all the action made by the government, including the arrests of more than 50 protest leaders, have failed to stop the protests from growing in number and scale.

The current student-led protest started in February but was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It resumed in July with a large demonstration organized under the Free Youth umbrella at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. Initially, the protesters called for the dissolution of parliament, ending intimidation of the people, and the drafting of a new constitution, but the demands have changed over time, now including the reform of the Thai monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Key terms:

  1. Media censorship

  2. Government order

  3. Thai authorities

  4. Ban on gatherings

  5. Student-led protest

  6. Reform

Key questions:

  1. Why did Thai government choose to censor the media?

  2. Is government censorship justified?

  3. What should Thai government do to stop the protest?

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