Mobiles, media banned from junta reconciliation forums

Communication devices and the media have been banned from provincial consultation forums held by the junta to discuss political reconciliation, leaving the public no means to check whether reconciliation policies will reflect the people’s wishes.
On 6 March 2017, the junta held the first of three provincial forums in Nakhon Sawan Province to collect opinions on political reconciliation. In attendance were academics, government representatives, and student representatives who were invited to share their ideas on the resolution of political conflicts in the country.
Thanakom Jongjira, the Governor of Nakhon Sawan Province, specified that only invited participants and government staff were present during the forum, meaning no media or members of civil society could observe. He promised that feedback recorded in the forum would be delivered to the government to guide its ongoing political reconciliation schemes.
“The forum, held to hear thoughts on reconciliation and reducing conflict, will not allow the mass media. From now on, the meeting room will be closed in order to allow participants to voice their ideas fully. There will be official recorders to submit a report to the government. Participants will not bring mobiles in but will have to leave them outside,” stated Thanakom.
He added that if anybody takes photos or information out of the meeting room, this could create misunderstanding and increase conflict. As such, the forum will not allow the general public to listen or offer information.
Participants in the consultation forum were selected by a committee appointed by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) of Nakhon Sawan, in conjunction with representatives from the private sector, the government and others nominated by the governor. A previous reconciliation forum in Chiang Mai also banned media and cell phones. 


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