Pacific Media Watch

23 May 2016

THAILAND: Voices from Thailand: Reflections on two-year coup anniversary

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Thai anti-censorship protestors in Pantip Plaza, Thailand, in 2009. Image: Global Voices/ PMC blog

Jocelyn Gecker

BANGKOK: (Japan Times/ Pacific Media Watch): In the early evening of May 22, 2014, all TV screens in Thailand turned blue and up flashed an army emblem. That was the first sign of change. Suddenly, the country’s army commander appeared to say he was now in charge.

Two years later, Thailand is still firmly under military control, although Prayuth has changed his title from general to prime minister.

Outwardly, the country has returned to normal. Bangkok is clogged with traffic, protesters have stayed off the streets, resorts and beaches are full of tourists. But under the surface, Thai society, politics and freedoms are in a state of flux. What do Thais think about the coup, and how has Thailand changed in the two years under military control? The AP presents the views of ordinary people and well-known figures in Thai society to answer those questions in their own voice.

The journalist

Pravit Rojanaphruk, a Thai journalist who is one of the junta’s prominent critics:

“It’s pretty bleak.

“As a journalist, there’s been a lot of self-censorship as well as the arbitrary detention of those who refuse to stop calling this regime illegitimate. I have been detained without charges twice. Most recently they have banned my travel to Finland to attend the World Press Freedom Day celebration, which is co-organized with UNESCO.”

The student

Kornkanok Khamta, 22, a political science student at Bangkok’s Thammasat University who has become an anti-coup activist:

“In the first year after the coup, I was really just an ordinary student. But after that year, I started becoming more involved in student and youth movements with my friends.

“I realized that I’ve been abused by the government. When I speak out or try to express normal things in public, I’ve been stifled by the government. And this is not right.”

The above accounts are extracts from the article, Voices from Thailand: Reflections on two-year coup anniversary, by Associated Press corrrespondent Jocelyn Gecker for the Japan Times.


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