US, EU “concerned” over Thailand's situation, safety of journalists

Following the rising tension in Bangkok due to the anti-government mass demonstration, the European Union and United States has said they were “concerned” with the situation and called on all sides to avoid violence, while Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) are especially concerned with the safety of the journalists. 
 
Tension is rising in Bangkok after thousands of anti-government protesters, led by former opposition MPs of pro-establishment Democrat Party, have seized several key state agency compounds, such as Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Interior. The Thai government decided to enact a special security law to better maintain the rule of law in Bangkok amid anticipation of a crackdown. 
 
While the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today has offered dialogue with the protest leaders to achieve peaceful solution, but the protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said he would not negotiate in any circumstance.
 
So far 23 embassies in Thailand have issued travel advice warning their citizens to be cautious of travelling in Bangkok. 
 
The US State Department on Monday issued a statement, saying that it is “concerned” about the rising political tension in Thailand. It also urged all sides to “ to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law.”
 
“Violence and the seizure of public or private property are not acceptable means of resolving political differences,” said US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki in the statement. 
 
The statement further touched the issue of the safety of the journalists after German freelance photojournalist Nick Nostitz was assaulted by anti-government rally. “We call upon all sides to uphold international norms that guarantee freedom of the press and the safety of journalists,” said the statement. 
 
“The United States firmly believes all parties should work together to resolve differences through peaceful dialogue in ways that strengthen democracy and rule of law,” he said on Monday,” said the statement. 
 
On Tuesday the European Union said it was “concerned about reports that compounds of Government ministries were occupied during demonstrations” and calls on all parties to respect the rule of law and resolve conflicts through peaceful means.
 
Meanwhile, HRW and the RSF expressed their concerns regarding safety of the journalists. RSF went further to say that it was “unacceptable” for the journalists to be attacked upon an allegation of ‘pro-government reporting’.
 
“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 Paris-based RSF also blamed the lack of impartial state TV coverage of pro- and anti-government demonstrations as the reason leads to the attack. 
 
“[State TV coverages] 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,” RSF said.   
 
 
 

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