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Thai government blocks satellite TV channel, online

The Thai government blocked the broadcasts of an opposition satellite TV channel and an independent online news portal a day after a state of emergency was declared in Bangkok and nearby provinces.

The "Bangkok Post" said Prime Minister's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey announced on the morning of 8 April that the government's Center for Public Administration in Emergency
Situations has successfully blocked all the signals of the People's Channel, which is operated by the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Sathit added that there has been progress in its efforts to "ban the spread of disinformation intended to incite violations of the law."

Meanwhile, independent online news portal Prachatai.com was also blocked by order of Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban. Aside from Prachatai.com, 35 others, mostly pro-Red Shirt political websites, were also ordered shut down. According to Prachatai.com executive director Chiranuch Premchaiporn, INet, the company that hosts the site, confirmed to her that it had received a court order to close down the website.

Chiranuch was charged on 31 March 2010 with 10 counts of violating the Computer-Related Crime Act case law. She was accused of failing to remove immediately from the site's discussion board comments that authorities deemed insulting to the monarchy.

The site's URL now redirects it to a link that contains a message saying the website "has been blocked by a Court order...it could have an affect on or be against the security of the Kingdom, public order or good morals".

In his speech on 7 April, PM Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Bangkok and several outlying provinces have been placed under a state of emergency to better control the situation in the capital. "The government has tried its best to enforce the law, but violations of the law have increased," Earlier that day, legislators were forced to flee the Parliament building either on foot or by a helicopter
after Red Shirt protesters stormed the government building's compound.

The state of emergency gives the government more sweeping powers than the Internal Security Act, under which Bangkok had been placed ever since the UDD or Red Shirts group began its protest rallies in the capital.

According to a report by the Associated Press online says that the state of emergency "allows the military to restore order and allows the government to impose curfews, ban public gatherings of more than five people, censor and ban media from disseminating news that 'causes panic.' It also allows security officials to detain suspects without charge for up to 30 days."