Monday, April 20, 2009

Citizen, journalist, or simply an plain-clothes soldier?

Both Thai Rath and Channel 3 were reporting a story of residents attacking a Red Shirt protester because they were enraged because protesters had hijacked and parked an LGP tanker outside their apartments.

Yet the photograph used to illustrate the Thai Rath story is highly questionable. Not only is the location wrong but the Thai Rath front page image had clearly been photoshopped removing the camera and camera bag to support the 'citizen' aspect. The Bangkok Pundit has a summary and Pantip has the pictures, as does Prachatai.

The photos on left show two unedited photos with the camera bag and camera visible while the bottom image, which was used on the front page of Thai Rath, the camera and bag have been edited out.

While Thai Rath's photo altering certainly supports accusations that they are providing biased reporting of the news to fit an anti-Red Shirt slant, I witness the event and dont believe it was a photographer or citizen.

The 'journalist' was likely not a journalist. He did have a camera - as did many people there - but he did not carry prominently placed ID that all Thai and international media display when working in such an environment. Two Thai journalists who also witnessed it also claimed that he was not a journalist.

But, he also did not appear to be a normal resident. He had merged into the crowd to confront the women by moving from behind the lines of troops, passing through the troops unobstructed and not from either side of the street which did have some citizens mingling about. When he attacked her, he dragged her by the hair back behind the lines of soldiers which parted on either side so he could pass freely behind military lines.

The image here shows the two Red Shirt women approaching the lines of troops and pictured at far left is myself.

This appears to me as a standard crowd control maneuver used to extract instigators seeking to escalate a protest. He certainly appeared to be working with complicit support from the troops.

The events unfolded very quickly and the journalist assembled would have been able to follow what happened next but the scuffle caused the opposing lines of Red Shirts to surge forward which caused the troops to start thumping their truncheons and shields, raise their weapons in the air, and it appear that the troops were on the cusp of a protest-breaking surge forward. The troops, the protesters, people on the sidelines, and the assembled media all turned their focus to what seemed like an impending large-scale clash rather following the fate of the unfortunate Red Shirt protester.

So, as I understand it, it was a simple but violent crowd control technique which then was unethically and inaccurate misrepresented by Thai Rath.

1 comment:

  1. thaienews blog has followed this matter at leangth (as many people on Pantip website) - but it is in Thai.

    this guy was a PAD full-time employed guard during their occupation of GH and airports. after that he was out of "job" again.

    ASTV even made a phone-interview with him. I think it is still available there on their website. (also in Thai)


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