November 27, 2013 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Anti-government protesters target media, attack German reporter

Reporters Without Borders condemns the harassment of journalists by street demonstrators amid growing criticism of state television’s lack of coverage, or biased coverage, of a month-old wave of anti-government protests. The criticism has focused on state-owned Channels 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 in particular. “The lack of impartial state TV coverage of pro- and anti-government demonstrations is clearly a major problem but this does not give demonstrators grounds for focusing their frustration with the government on the media and it certainly does not justify the physical attack that a German freelance journalist received,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is unacceptable that journalists should be physically targeted for their supposed ‘pro-government’ reporting. This kind of attack on a reporter who had an armband clearly identifying him as a journalist casts serious doubt on the protest movement’s legitimacy.” The Thai Broadcast Journalists Association and the Thai Journalists Association issued a joint statement that stressed the important of impartial reporting but rejected the accusations of biased coverage. They also urged protest organizers to ensure that the demonstrations continued to be peaceful and that no marches on TV stations took place. The demonstrations in Bangkok degenerated on 24 November when protesters surrounded vehicles owned by Channel 3 and Channel 7. A crowd targeted German freelance journalist Nick Nostitz yesterday after one of the protest leaders, Jumpol Chumsai, identified him as a pro-government “red shirt” and urged the crowd to “chase” him away from the demonstration. Nostitz was slightly hurt but managed to escape with help from the police. The attack was quickly condemned by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which called on protest leaders to publicly recognize that the rights of all national and foreign journalists should be respected. Thailand is ranked 135th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.