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Thailand's Rohingya Abuses and Media Bashing Start in Burma, Says Phuket Editor

Thailand's Rohingya Abuses and Media Bashing Start in Burma, Says Phuket Editor

Monday, April 21, 2014
Countdown to World Media Freedom Day: Day 18

PHUKET: Thailand's problems in dealing with the Rohingya boatpeople and a probing media are a direct result of the ethnic cleansing taking place in Burma, Phuketwan editor Alan Morison says.

In an interview with a Thai legal advocacy firm, he speaks out about the Royal Thai Navy case against Phuketwan using Thailand's much-criticised Computer Crimes Act and criminal defamation laws.

''It was alarming to have a big organisation sue a small organisation in the way that the navy had for no good reason,'' he tells iLaw.

''It feels frustrating because we want to sue them back but, of course, we don't want to use this law because it is a bad law.''

Morison and his colleague Chutima Sidasathian spent five hours in cells beneath Phuket Provincial Court on Thursday as a preliminary to their trial, which begins on May 26.

The pair face a maximum of seven years in jail, with a 100,000 baht fine. The Navy case concerns just one paragraph, republished with excerpts from a Reuters special report that last week won the Pulitzer prize.

Reuters has not been charged. The large international news agency ceased contact with Phuketwan in December, immediately after Morison told a Reuters journalist about the charges against Phuketwan.

In the four months since, Reuters has failed to speak out in defence of its paragraph or on behalf of Phuketwan, even though Khun Chutima worked for Reuters on the Pulitzer winning series.

In the iLaw interview, Morison said he took the Royal Thai Navy charges as a challenge.

''Instead of self-censorship we should be more frank and more open to say what exactly is happening and more direct in the way we do stories,'' he said.

The fault for the problems related to Rohingya in Thailand lay entirely with Burma (Myanmar), he said.

''The Burmese push the Rohingya into the sea. They are forced to leave the country and so Thailand has to deal with that.

''Sadly, Thailand remains silent and secret and keeps the issue as quiet as possible. We believe this issue is important to the international community so we have been writing about it for seven years now.

''People around the world are aware that Burma is now officially a democracy but they are not aware of the intolerance within Burma.

''What is happening in Thailand is really a byproduct of what's happening in Burma. Thailand is an innocent party to the real cause of problem.

''So we try to make the point that it is difficult to be a democracy with such entrenched racism and intolerance. The Rohingya are persecuted for no good reason, simply because they are Muslims in a Buddhist country.

''The world needs to know more about Burma.

''I'm still horrified that the Navy brought this charge. It is unreasonable. If I have to go to jail in protest at this attack on media freedom, then that is something we are prepared to do.''

Morison also believes the use of criminal defamation and the Computer Crimes Act by the Navy tarnishes Thailand's reputation as a democracy.

The laws should be repealed as soon as possible, he said.

Phuketwan has offered the Royal Thai Navy as much space as needed to say whatever they wish to say about the Rohingya or the suit against Phuketwan.

Khun Chutima, who is also a PhD candidate, is now in Australia where she plans to speak about the case and the Rohingya at Sydney University on Tuesday.

The International Conference on Thai Studies is held every three years, hosted either by a Thai university or by a university outside of Thailand where there is an interest in Thai studies.

The conference will celebrate the University of Sydney's long-standing connection with Thailand.

Khun Chutima is also booked to speak at the Melbourne Press Club on April 29.

Phuketwan is marking the 30-day countdown to the 30th anniversary of the World Media Freedom Day on May 3 with news outlets around the world.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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It is very trusting of the Thai government that they have let Khun Chutima out of Thailand as I had read they had taken AM's Passport away. I think it is standard anywhere that you are not allowed to leave a country where criminal charges are in motion. Fair to the government in this respect they clearly do trust her to return.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on April 21, 2014 15:06

Editor Comment:

She's a Thai FF, so she is not considered a flight risk. Simple, really.

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Who wrote the English part on that photo? If I had to get " a jail "... Do they give away jails now these days ?
And " brough" this charge... I mean, my English is far from perfect, but come on...

Posted by Charles on April 21, 2014 16:00

Editor Comment:

Forever the trivia buff, eh Charles? ''Expert on the unimportant'' is not a category for which you have any serious competition.

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(moderated)

Posted by sir burr on April 21, 2014 17:59

Editor Comment:

When you have something of value to add, Sir Burr, we will publish another of your comments, Until then, I am treating readers to a respite from your carping, harping and pomposity.

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Oh dear.....my post too embarrassing for you that you can't publish?

Your principles are obviously flexible.

Posted by sir burr on April 21, 2014 19:40

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PS

The post you moderated was not "carping, harping and pomposity" as you well know. It just contained an embarrassing fact, that you went back on what you said. You have now compounded that by being untruthful.
I'm done with you. You are clearly a dishonest person.

Posted by sir burr on April 21, 2014 19:47

Editor Comment:

I could sue you for that, sir burr, but as you are only an anonymous limpet, I'll just laugh it off as usual. I've already responded re the bail/jail. You just fail to keep up - then expect an individual reply. The fact is, you are a harper and a carper . . . and exceedingly pompous . . . and you never, ever say anything worth publishing, more's the pity. I've had to read more than 700 comments from you and I can't recall a single one that added anything to the conversation. Harping, carping - you're a champ.

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@Ed: a legal rights advocacy firm in Thailand, that is so poor in English. And you think that's not important? So you would feel very comfortable, doing business with such a company? Keep those rosy glasses on, Ed. And as you told me before, in another comment, that at least your eyes are open... Hmmm, not at the moment they posted this picture...

Posted by Charles on April 21, 2014 20:05

Editor Comment:

Understanding the Thai language and Thai law is what's important, Charles. Your understanding of what matters is, as always, impeded by your ego.

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Editor: maybe Sir Burr has one ( burr: a ragged edge, raised on metal during drilling or shearing )under his saddle, it renders him rather edgy, as he drills and shears away at you. Why? Perhaps those ragged metal edges have torn his toot. Jep Mak, and misery loves company..

Posted by dean on April 21, 2014 22:06

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Ed, really? 700 responses? I think you are confusing me with someone else. I've written in less than 50 times.

Threatening me with the very law you are against? I'll just add hypocrisy to the list.

Posted by sir burr on April 22, 2014 10:32

Editor Comment:

You continue to make foolish assumptions combined with unwarranted personal insults, SB, hallmarks of the unthinking commenter.

It would be a civil defamation case. Nothing to do with the bad laws. You're also not right about the number: 181. Enough, I think.

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"You're also not right about the number"

That makes two of us......

Posted by sir burr on April 22, 2014 12:24

Editor Comment:

True. SB, but being trivial stuff of no consequence, I will forget it immediately and you will comment about it for the forseeable future. But not on this site.


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