TV reports on Thailand protests censored after PM bans news that 'threaten national security' website was also blocked, website featured a petition to declare the Thai King persona non grata in Germany.

Matthias Ang | October 16, 2020, 09:33 PM

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has issued a decree banning political gatherings of five or more people.

In addition, he has banned the publication of news and online information that could threaten national security.

Media outlets censored

Since the ban, several media outlets and television channels have been censored to varying degrees, including the BBC and Thai television station VoiceTV, Nikkei Asia reported.

In addition, Japanese media outlet NHK Premium was interrupted prior to the issuing of Prayuth's degree, when it was reporting on the ongoing protests on the night of Oct. 14.

Thanyarat Doksone, a producer for BBCWorld took to Twitter with a picture of a white screen showing the words "Program will resume shortly".

He alleged that the show was interrupted when Southeast Asia correspondent for the BBC, Jonathan Head, was covering the protests.

Another Twitter user who responded to Thanyarat's initial tweet also claimed that True Visions, a Thai cable television channel, interrupted CNN's coverage of the protests and showed the same screen.

The decree introducing the bans follows an incident in which police pushed jeering protesters away from a motorcade carrying Thai Queen Suthida on Oct. 14.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said, "The measures were necessary to ensure peace and order and to prevent further incidents after protesters affected the royal motorcade and violated the monarchy with provocative language."

Access to website also blocked

Khaosod English further reported that access to the website was blocked by the country's major internet service providers, AIS, Dtac and True.

Attempts to access the page within Thailand lead to the following image which states that the page has been suspended due to cybercrime.

Source: Thai Netizen Network Facebook

The contents also cannot be reproduced in the country "due to fear of the royal defamation law", Khaosod English reported.

Criticism of the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under strict lèse majesté (insulting the monarch) laws.

Blocking of access comes after petition calls for the King to be declared personan non grata in Germany

BBC also highlighted that petition website was blocked in Thailand as a petition calling for Thai King Vajiralongkorn to be declared persona non grata in Germany gained momentum and attracted almost 130,000 signatures.

One of the criticisms directed towards the King include the accusation that he spends too much time in Germany -- international reports such as The Economist have claimed that he mostly spends his time in Europe making the acquaintances of various women.

He is currently back in Thailand for a visit and is expected to stay for a few weeks, according to Nikkei Asia. 

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