BANGKOK: Thai police said on Monday (Oct 19) they had ordered an investigation of four news outlets and imposed curbs on messaging app Telegram under emergency measures to try to stop protests, but thousands of people defied a ban on demonstrations for a fifth day.
The announcement of the media investigations prompted accusations of an attack on press freedom by the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the former military leader the protesters are seeking to drive from office.
Thousands of protesters gathered at an intersection in Bangkok chanting "keep fighting", in the latest demonstration in three months of protests that have also called for reforms to the monarchy.
"This action takes away people's rights to information," said 19-year-old Jin, who like many protesters was only willing to give one name.
The government ordered a ban on news and online information that could affect national security last Thursday, when it also banned political gatherings of more than five people in the face of the growing challenge.
According to a police document dated Oct 16, investigations have been ordered into content from four media outlets as well as the Facebook page of a protest group.
Some of the content could "cause confusion and instigate causing unrest to society", police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said, adding that the broadcast regulator and digital ministry would investigate and take appropriate action.
300,000 ILLEGAL ITEMS
Putchapong Nodthaisong, a spokesman for the digital ministry, said it had requested court orders to take down content by the four media outlets and the Facebook page of the protest group Free Youth, among more than 300,000 pieces of content it said violated Thai laws over the last week.
The Manushya Foundation, an independent group which campaigns for online freedom, called the measures an attempt to silence free media.
"Since the ban on protests did not work, the military-backed government hopes to create fear of telling the truth," its director Emilie Palamy Pradichit said. "We urge free media to resist."
Police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk also said he had ordered the digital ministry to restrict Free Youth's group on Telegram, a messaging application that protesters have used to coordinate in recent days.
Apart from arrests by police, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society said it had flagged more than 325,000 messages on social media platforms that violRead More – Source