In Chilling Turn, Thailand Holds Reporter For ‘Attitude Adjustment’

By BenarNews Staff

2015-09-14
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150914-TH-journalist-620 Thai journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk flashes a V-sign as he stand with his mouth taped outside a military base in Bangkok, where he had been summoned by Thailand’s junta, May 25, 2014.
AFP

Journalists and free press advocates Monday called on Thailand’s military-controlled government to release a well-known newspaper columnist detained as part of the junta’s “attitude adjustment” program that targets dissenters.

The government confirmed that Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior reporter and columnist for The Nation, had been picked up. A spokesman for the government said he could be incarcerated for up to a week and asked to sign a document, failing which “he would be charged with sedition.”

“It is only fair that Pravit be released as soon as possible, if the NCPO does not have sufficient evidence to warrant his detention,” Jintana Panyaarvudh, the paper’s managing editor, said in an open letter to the National Council for Peace and Order – the official name for the Thai junta –published Monday.

“Detaining journalists without clear charges can raise concerns over media freedom in Thailand and give rise to questions about … NCPO's sincerity in restoring democracy as it claims,” he added.

Newspapers executives and Pravit's relatives have been unable to contact him and are worried about his safety and welfare, Jintana said.

Pravit had previously been held for a week in May 2014 after being summoned by the junta, according to reports.

The junta seized power in May 2014. Earlier this year, the NCPO ended martial law but instead invoked Article 44 of Thailand’s interim constitution. The article gives the junta absolute power and allows it to curb the press and arrest protestors, critics say.

According to Agence France-Presse, the junta has required “scores of politicians, journalists and citizens to attend so-called “attitude adjustment” sessions. These are brief periods of incarceration that can last up to a week, AFP reported.

Associations representing domestic and foreign journalists also expressed alarm at Pravit’s detention.

“Keeping him in detention without any formal charge or clarification is against the principles of freedom of the press and the people's basic rights according to the Article 4 of the Interim Constitution,” Manop Thiposoth, vice chairman for Press Freedom and Media Reform at the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), said in a statement.

Yet, while calling on the junta to “exercise its power carefully,” he cautioned journalists to be careful with their reporting.

“The TJA insists and calls on all professional media to work responsibly and professionally,” Manop said.

For its part, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) said it was “very concerned to learn of the detention of journalist Pravit Rojanap[h]ruk by the Thai military authorities.”

“The detention of journalists or anyone else for the peaceful expression of their views violates Thailand's obligations under international human rights law,” the FCCT said.

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