Army Chief Cautions Media Against Criticism

(7 October) The chief of Royal Thai Army has advised the media to be strictly cautious when covering the news of court inquests over deaths in the 2010 crackdown.

The inquests have suggested the role played by the military in the crackdown which killed scores of civilians during the Redshirts protests of April-May 2010; the latest inquest, for instance, stated that two Redshirts protesters were killed by gunfire from the military position in the night of 10 April 2010.

The military has denied any involvement in those deaths, and today Gen. Prayuth Chantara-ocha has repeated that stance by claiming that the matter is far from conclusion and that the public should wait for more legal procedures before they come to any conclusion.

"Please don?t conclude things hastily. If you do that, there will be chaos in our country," said Gen. Prayuth.

He also stressed that the media should refrain from providing commentaries about the court inquests as it would amount to "pressuring" the authorities.

"No matter what colour and what side you are on, you cannot pressure the state personnel. You cannot intimidate their children or their wives. I ask you this, is that fair? Or you want to live without legal system? You cannot do that as the country will break apart," Gen. Prayuth is quoted as saying.

Furthermore, the commander in chief called for the media to "be respectful" to the military. He accused an unspecified media agency of unjustly criticising him, before adding that "Don?t use [angry] emotion in your writing. If I have [angry] emotion as well, we won?t be able to coexist".

He insisted that he had been "patient" with the critical coverage from the press but nevertheless warned that the media should take care not to accuse the Royal Thai Army of being politically biased because "the Army has only one side: the country. We defend the nation, the religion, and the monarchy".

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