The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters has expressed concern over the recent closure of community radio stations in Thailand in the wake of the coup.
However, it noted in a statement on its website that it was heartened to learn that approximately 500 licensed community radios are preparing to resume broadcast at the behest of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC).
Following the reports related to the Thai community radio stations, Maica Lagman, president of AMARC Asia-Pacific called on the junta to recognise the invaluable contributions community radios offer towards inclusive dialogue and peace-building.
"I earnestly urge the Thai military to let the community radios resume broadcast without further delay, so that dialogues at community levels can resume, and all sections of the society can participate in a positive resolution of the problems Thailand is facing currently. Community radios in other parts of Asia-Pacific as well as throughout the world are recognised for their contribution towards fostering dialogue and peace, and Thailand must take advantage of its community radios in this regard. Also, any impedance on community broadcasting is an impedance over freedom of expression of the people and this must be avoided,” Lagman said.
Lagman also expressed concern over the content restrictions under the martial law, which have a negative impact on the essence of community radios as a medium for local voices.
“If conversations through this channel are limited only to commercial or entertaining content, the limitation will gradually undermine the value of community radios. We believe that community radio is one of the most effective tools for political expression. This is why each community needs its own community station," she said.
AMARC calls on the Thai military to return to the democratic process, respect human rights and fundamental freedoms including press freedom, and create a conducive environment for community radio stations in Thailand to operate free from restriction or fear.