FCCT Statement Concerning Attacks on Journalists

The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand condemns another aggressive incident involving a journalist and unofficial security personnel belonging to a political faction.

In the wider context of the current political strife, there have been incidents of both torture and murder involving non-journalists. Violence against any individual is illegal. Harassment of the media is unconstitutional and hinders objective coverage of a complex and evolving political situation. It also distracts attention from issues of public interest.

In recent months, some local and foreign journalists have chosen not to report attacks on them and other intimidation in the hope that this will prevent the media becoming a bigger part of the story than is warranted.

The latest incident occurred on Wednesday 7 May outside the Constitutional Court during coverage of a crucial verdict against the former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. It was the second attack in six months on German photojournalist Nick Nostitz, and again involved guards attached to the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Nostitz was sitting close to the court's entrance and wearing a green Thai Journalists' Association (TJA) armband clearly identifying him as a member of the press. Having been singled out, Nostitz was told to come and see 'Luang Bu'. He was shoved hard in the chest and pushed around when he declined, and the guards attempted to take him with them.

The court was being guarded by some 20 police officers and soldiers. Police intervened after shouts from Nostitz and another journalist. Nostitz took shelter inside the courthouse and was eventually smuggled away from the scene in a police vehicle. Credit is due to everyone who contributed to defusing this incident.

At this difficult time in Thailand's political development, the professional membership of the FCCT calls on the political groups involved to honour pledges that have been made to allow journalists to work unobstructed, irrespective of their media organization or nationality.

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