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Violence in Thailand Leaves Two Journalists Dead, Five Injured

May 24, 2010

After the worst riots in Thailand’s modern history, the clean up in Bangkok is well on the way with Thailand’s stock exchange due to re-open on Monday. However, after two journalists were killed and five injured, questions remain over whether journalists were targeted during the violence.

“International Law clearly states that journalists cannot be military targets” stated Reporters Without Borders earlier this week. “The confusion reigning in some parts of Bangkok do not suffice to explain the shooting injuries sustained by several Thai and foreign journalists since April.”

The two journalists Hiroyuki Muramoto and Fabio Polenghi were both killed as they attempted to cover the protests by the United Front of Democracy (UDD) against Dictatorship, more commonly known as “Red Shirts.” The group opposes the current Thai government, who it considers to have taken power illegitimately with support from the military and the judiciary.

The Bangkok Post reported that protesters, angry at bias coverage by local media, directly attacked the offices of news broadcasters. Media watchdogs have stated that the censorship of pro-UDD media has played a large part in the escalation of violence over the past week. Reporters Without Borders had previously claimed that censorship may result in radicalizing some elements of the movement and according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, censorship “exacerbated an already fragile political situation.”

The UN and ASEAN have both expressed concern over the situation in the country and stated a need to resume talks to find a political solution. However, red shirt leaders plan on resuming protests next month unless their demand for a dissolution of government is met.

Photo Credit: Thiti Wannamontha

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.