Local government units in Thailand banned from political activities, other expressions tolerated

alerts-button-1.jpgThe ruling military in Thailand has banned political activities of Tambon (a local government unit) and provincial administrative organisations following reports that some had tried to organise rallies against the military in the northern and northeast regions.

However, almost a week after the 19 September 2006 coup, public forum against the putsch is still tolerated to some extent.

News websites critical of the coup are still functioning, although a popular alternative news website, http://www.prachathai.com, has announced it had to put its webboard on hold due to “a disturbance”. The website said there were hundreds of the same message posted on the webboard at around 8pm on 24 September. Prachathai’s webboard has increasingly played an important role in hosting academic and public exchanges of views on critical issues facing the Thais. Following the coup, it ran several articles offering different views about the coup.

On 25 September, a defiant civil group comprised of right activists and students and academia from various universities held a public discussion at Thammasat University without disruption. No uniformed police personnel were seen monitoring the discussion.

The group of some 50 people intended to show civil disobedience to the ruling Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDR), which has banned a gathering of more than five people. The group also expressed their disagreement over the Council’s scrapping of the Constitution.

On 22 September, the same group staged the first rally after the coup outside Bangkok’s upscale shopping mall Siam Center to voice their displeasure.

The Council has banned activities of local politicians and shut down more than 300 out of some 3,000 community radio stations to prevent supporters of ousted caretaker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from gaining a public voice.

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