In a letter addressed to General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday, The Nation called on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to release its senior journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk from military custody as soon as possible.
In the letter, The Nation’s managing editor Jintana Panyaarvudh said Pravit’s detention was akin to curtailing press freedom. She also asked the junta to provide a public explanation as to why Pravit was taken into custody and to disclose his whereabouts so his family, colleagues and an authorised lawyer can visit him.
The letter also said that if the junta was unable to provide proper justification for his detention, then it “should consider releasing Pravit immediately”.
The letter also stressed that The Nation stood in support of Pravit’s news reports and opinion pieces that the paper has published, because they were in line with its editorial principles.
The fact that the junta has not offered any justification for Pravit’s detention “has raised fears that attempts are being made to curtail media freedom at a time when the public has the greatest need for information”, the letter read.
The letter was submitted to the NCPO chief yesterday through Army deputy spokesman Colonel Sirichan Nga-Thong at the Internal Security Operations Command headquarters.
The Nation’s editor-in-chief Thepchai Yong had earlier called on the junta to revoke all orders issued in the aftermath of the coup that restrict freedom of expression and the press.
NCPO urged to review detention
Meanwhile, Manop Thiposod, Thai Journalists Association (TJA) vice president for press freedom and media reform, called on the NCPO to ease its measures against the media and review Pravit’s detention.
“Though Pravit has different opinions, he has explicitly expressed them in public. He has also performed his duty as a media professional and taken responsibility for his reports. Pravit is only a reporter under The Nation’s editorial team. Instead of singling him out, the NCPO should discuss the issue and make the editorial team understand. Perhaps summoning him would have been enough,” he said.
“On behalf of the TJA, in charge of press freedom and media reform, I call on the NCPO to take care of Pravit’s well-being during detention in accordance with his basic rights.
“If possible, we call on the NCPO to release him before the seven-day deadline.”
Also yesterday, the president of the Thailand Development Research Institute called on the NCPO to open up and allow freedom of expression to academics.
Somkiat Tangkitvanich said the junta should lift restrictions and allow the media to interview academics freely and publish their opinions.
‘Be open to different opinions’
He said those in power should be open to different opinions, especially when there are no mechanisms in place for checks and balances and when the NCPO’s measures have an impact on the public. He also said opening the road to free expression would help the NCPO acquire a lot of useful recommendations.
As for the fear of outrageous comments by academics, he said the NCPO could take legal action against the wrongdoers in line with the normal legal process.
“Reform dealing with structural problems will have a wide impact. Therefore, it should happen in an atmosphere where everybody can discuss issues equally and freely,” he said.