Thai authorities block live broadcast of anti-junta protest in New York

The Thai authorities have admitted that they blocked websites and Facebook pages of the anti-establishment red shirts to prevent them from broadcasting the anti-junta protest at the UN.

According to Matichon Online, Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the spokesperson of the Prime Minister's Office under Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and PM, on Saturday, 26 September 2015, said that the Thai authorities blocked the red-shirt websites and social networks to prevent them from broadcasting live the anti-junta protest before the UN 70th General Assembly in New York, US.

Gen Sansern mentioned that he did not know which state agencies ordered the blocking of the red-shirt websites, but it was probably done by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) to prevent conflict and instability.

On Saturday 11 am local time in New York, a group of 50-60 anti-junta Thais gathered in front of the UN headquarters in New York City to protest against the Thai junta leader while he was attending the UN meeting along with 134 leaders of member countries.

Ahead of the anti-coup gathering, red-shirt websites, such as United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship USA (UDD US), aka Red USA, and UDD Sweden, announced that they planned to broadcast the anti-junta protest at the UN headquarter live from New York at 10 pm Thai time, but the signal was later blocked and they could only broadcast the sound of the protest.     

The anti-coup protesters included Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an anti-junta political science academic known for his fierce criticisms of the regime, Darunee Kitboonyalai, a well-known red shirt who fled Thailand after being charged with lèse majesté, and Jom Petpradab, an anti-coup journalist now in self-imposed exile in the US.

"I'm disappointed that Thailand is not a democracy," the Bangkok Post quoted Darunee as saying. "We don't have fundamental rights in Thailand. I love the King, but why can’t we have a democracy?”

At the same time, about the same number of pro-coup and pro-establishment yellow shirts also gathered in front of the UN to voice their support of the Thai junta leader.

Gen Sansern pointed out that the appearance of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha at many UN forums reflected that the Thai junta is accepted by the international community.

"Foreign countries understand now that we do have problems and we want to solve them. They also have confidence the government will do its best and take the country toward democracy," Maj Gen Sansern quoted the junta leader as saying.  

Pavin Chachavalpongpan (in the grey suit) at the anti-junta protest in New York on 26 September 2015 (courtesy of Chutiphong Pipoppinyo)