The police ordered that four news agencies and the main student activist Facebook page be investigated and shut down following five days of growing protests that took over much of Bangkok and provinces nationwide.
In an order to telecom regulators, the police said four news outlets – The Reporters, Prachatai, The Standard and Voice TV – and student activist group Free Youth should be shut down for violating the new state of emergency.
The order said they had presented “misleading information” affecting “national stability or order.” It was signed by national police chief Suwat Changyodsuk, who was appointed in August.
Thanapanee Eadsrichai, founder and reporter of The Reporters, said that the document is valid and her team is waiting for more information from the 10am press conference by the emergency task force.
The Standard asked the authorities to reconsider the order in a statement defending media freedom.
“We want to demand that authorities reconsider the order and not violate the freedom of the press, which will affect the people’s rights in receiving complete information according to the democratic ruling.”
— สถาบันชังชาติแห่งประเทศไทย (@IO300THB) October 18, 2020
The largest protests in a generation saw tens of thousands fill the area around the Victory Monument on Sunday evening as well as Asoke intersection and other locations in the capital.
After security forces forcibly dispersed a Friday protest with water cannons laced with chemical agents, at Pathumwan Intersection, pro-democracy protesters spent the weekend playing cat and mouse games to stage rallies around the capital. In response, the authorities shut down all major rail lines servicing the metropolitan area in a failed attempt to contain the demonstrations.
Similar protests drew large crowds in at least 20 provinces nationwide, from Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen down to Phuket and Surat Thani.
The commission has been used to muzzle media deemed unfriendly to the military-backed government over the years, including several orders shutting down Voice TV.