The Thai government acted inappropriately in pressuring the Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) to cancel a press conference that would have
criticized Vietnam, the Committee to Protect Journalists have said.
The Bangkok-based FCCT had intended to host a press conference by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR). The two independent rights groups had planned to launch a new report called From Rhetoric to Reality: Human Rights in Vietnam, under its Chairmanship of ASEAN 2010.
The FCCT said in a statement that the ministry first contacted it by telephone on September 9 to request that the club cancel the press conference because it might contain information detrimental to a neighboring country. The ministry also
requested that the FCCT inform the event's two scheduled speakers, VCHR's Vo Van Ai and Penelope Faulkner, that the ministry would deny them visas on arrival upon landing in Thailand. The event was then formally cancelled by the two groups.
The FCCT provides an important space for journalists to meet and exchange ideas with newsmakers and that space should remain open and free of restrictions, said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Senior Southeast Asia Representative. Regrettably, the
pressure put on the FCCT is consistent with a wider crackdown on the free press and Internet under way in Thailand.
Thani Thongphakdi, head of the Thai ministry's Department of Information, wrote in a September 10 e-mail to the FCCT that the government attaches great importance to the principles of freedom of expression and diversity of views ...BUT... that it also has
a long-standing position of not allowing organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries.
There are rising concerns among Bangkok-based journalists that the Thai government will become less tolerant of such programs to guard against regional criticism of its own anti-democratic tendencies.
Update: Vietnam thanks Thailand for gagging human rights criticism
15th September 2010. Based on article
The Vietnamese government has thanked Thailand for preventing two activists from travelling to Bangkok to present a report criticising human
rights in Vietnam.
Vietnam welcomes Thailand's refusal to allow Thai territory to be used for activities opposing Vietnam, government spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said.
She said the action was appropriate to the friendly and cooperative relations between Vietnam and Thailand, and to the charter of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).