Thailand’s Government has taken decisive action to close down the propaganda machine of the anti-government protesters, but an official spokesman has continued to insist that force would not be used to disperse the crowds now besieging the nation’s capital in their thousands.
In a move that has been compared with Thailand’s restrictive bans on reporting news concerning the royal family, the protesters’ “People” satellite television and internet networks were suddenly blocked today.
The closure was precipitated by the state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday, Government minister Sathit Wongnongtoey told reporters, and it was part of the plan to return Thailand to “normalcy”.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protesters, widely known as red-shirts, have been broadcasting on the People Channel from an intersection in Bangkok’s prime retail shopping strip.
Camped out at the Ratchaprasong intersection since the weekend, the red-shirts have blocked traffic and effectively forced the closure of as many as six large shopping malls and hampered the trade of two five-star hotels.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn told journalists today that closing down the People Channel was crucial to the Government’s plan to prevent hostilities in Bangkok escalating.
“The key operation last night and today is to make sure that we can control some media channels that try to tell people to break the law,” he said. “This is the first time the Government has done that.”