FACT exclusive: Govt blocks Prachatai, Same Sky plus 34 ‘Red’ websites
April 8, 2010
Prachatai gone, with scores of Redshirt websites
Is FACT next? No court order necessary.
Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) condemns the heavy-handed censorship of citizen journalism under the emergency decree.
Thailand’s premier independent news portal, Prachatai.com, appears to be the first casualty of the Thai government’s emergency decree prohibiting political activities.
There have been at least eight states of emergency decreed by government over the past two years, during one of which in April 2009, FACT’s website was blocked.
However, this is the first time Prachatai has been blocked. Users attempting to reach Prachatai or Prachatai English instead receive a browser error or a server error screen. Such redirects are the primary method MICT uses to confuse the public rather than taking responsibility for its censorship.
The plot gets thicker. Unlike other websites blocked in Thailand, Prachatai also cannot be reached by using the typical circumvention techniques of anonymous proxy servers or VPNs overseas. How was govt able to accomplish the complete deletion of Prachatai from the Internet?
This flagrant violation of our Constitutional guarantees to a free media has caused much speculation and rumours.
It has been confirmed by Prachatai webmaster, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, that Prachatai and 35 other websites thought by govt to support the Redshirt movement have been blocked under the government’s emergency decree by order of Deputy Prime Minister in charge of national security, Suthep Thaugsaban. Of course, all normal rule of law is suspended under the decree which means government does not need to follow the requirements of the Computer Crimes act 2007 in seeking a court order for censorship. Matichon reports that as of 11am prachatai.com, sameskybooks.org, weareallhuman.net, and norporchorusa.com all carry the message that “This website has been blocked”. by ICT & TOT”. [FACT: Has the Nor Por Chor webmaster, Thanthawuthi Thaweewarodom, charged under the lèse majesté provisions of the Computer Crimes Act 2007 last week been bailed? For lèse majesté allegations using the Criminal Code, he would likely not receive bail but he certainly should under the CCA which carries a significantly lighter penalty.]
Up until now, we have thought government has been sensibly restrained in its censorship during the Redshirt demonstrations. However, adding the Emergency Decree gives government a shiny, new toy to play with. It seems, in Thailand, history is not only doomed to repeat itself but government dooms itself by repeating its past mistakes. Political Prisoners in Thailand reports that “It isn’t just Prachatai- it’s People Channel, all live internet streams from the protest, and every single pro-Red community radio station in Bangkok…”
It is expected Prachatai will reopen at another location, playing the government’s usual game of cat-and-mouse. We’ll keep you updated.
Suthep writes at Thai E-News that the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) [FACT: Never heard of them before!], the organization set up to monitor ‘the situation’, deems these 36 websites [FACT: Is that all???] disseminate news that may be a danger to national security. [FACT quotes and emphasis.] Follows the Gor Hor 0407.45/1 order to MICT by the Deputy PM to block 36 websites. Prachatai is #8, Same Sky (Fah Diew Kan is #34.
(Thanks to Bangkok Pundit)