The development after a military coup on 19 September 2006 in Thailand is apparently getting worse. A series of policies issued by the military administration, which calls itself the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM), has clearly threatened civilian freedoms and fundamental rights in a democratic community. The military junta has arbitrarily revoked the basic rights enjoyed by the Thai people prior to the coup, banning differences in opinions, arresting protesters, closing down hundreds of community radio staions and limiting radio relays.
Through such acts, the CDRM has broken its promise to immediately return sovereignty to the people. The promise must transpire with the wish of the CDRM to guarantee the freedom of expression of the people of Thailand to speak among themselves, with the international community, and even the CDRM. The people’s sovereignty will not materialise without a guaranteed press freedom and access to information.
Although journalists can still move freely across Thailand and the people of Thailand can still enjoy access to Internet, control of the mass media is already in place. Television stations can no longer broadcast the people’s opinions about the coup and regulations on censorship have been imposed on all media.
Therefore, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia:
1. Condemns the coup committed by the military. A coup is not an answer for the development of a democratic country, and in every coup, threats against freedom of expression always occur.
2. Strongly slams every effort to restrain press freedom in Thailand, because a free press is not only an instrument of democracy but also the guardian of democracy.
3. Urges the Thai transitional government to respect and maintain press freedom in Thailand, not to take any action that can be regarded as censorship on news reports. A democratic community will not be able to exist if the right to information is limited by the authorities.
4. Calls on the Thai transitional government to immediately end censorship and guarantee the public’s right to obtain reports from a free and independent media.
5. Expresses solidarity and support for journalists in Thailand in their continued efforts to meet the public’s right to information and reports from a free and independent media.