Thailand shuts down Human Rights media briefing

Closure comes day after junta leader denied trying to control media

Thailand shuts down Human Rights media briefing

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The day after it denied trying to control the media, Thailand's military government has shut down Human Rights Watch's attempts to launch a report on alleged Vietnamese ethnic persecution.

HRW said in a statement that the junta had asked the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) to cancel Friday's press conference which outlined the Vietnamese government's "harassment" and "persecution" of its Montagnard Christian minority.

Meanwhile, police officers and a large police truck were stationed outside.

In a statement handed to the FCCT, the junta -- or National Council for Peace and Order -- said that the event could "damage relations between Thailand and Vietnam" and it would "undermine national security."

It was the third event to be been cancelled at the venue in the last month. Those previously banned included a seminar about human rights in Thailand and an event to discuss the country’s lese-majesty law.

On Thursday, junta leader-cum-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha denied being scared of the media.

"I'm not afraid of the press but I ask for fairness because I have never told the press not to speak or write anything. I am friendly with the media," Prayuth told reporters.

He added that he "did not have control over the media, nor do they have power over me."

His office later tried to explain his comments, saying that he was just joking.

On Friday, HRW responded by announcing its "disappointment" in an emailed statement.

"By stepping in to defend a neighbouring state’s human rights violations against a group of its people and interrupting a scheduled press conference, Thailand’s military junta is violating freedom of assembly and demonstrating its contempt for freedom of the press," it said.

"This action today is just the latest indication that Thailand is choosing to side with dictatorships in ASEAN while further stepping up repression at home."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Haziran 2015, 14:12