Media and creative practitioners in Thailand line up to promote democracy

203 media and creative practitioners have signed a statement establishing the Thai Media for Democracy Alliance (DemAll) to promote democratic governance, freedom and mutual support for each other.

Alliance representatives read the founding statement.

Many famous names from journalism, creative and cultural circles can be found among the founders, such as Suchart Sawasdsri, Atukkit Sawangsuk, Nithinand Yorsaengrat and Thida Plitpholkarnpim.

The Alliance was launched online on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, due to social distancing restrictions.

At 15.00, Alliance representatives Ua-boon Chongsomchai, Nattharavut Muangsuk and Chotiros Naksut read the founding statement of the Alliance:

Following decades of social and political conflict, it has come to the day when the state and the basic institutions of the country show a clear attitude of deliberate discrimination against people who have different opinions from the state authorities by distorting all important principles of democratic government and of the rule of law. Under these long-standing circumstances, professional organizations directly involved in the role and function of voicing viewpoints, principles and opinions have instead remained silent.

In the name of groups of people working in writing, arts and culture, reporting, creative work, and all forms of mass media, we join in forming the Thai Media for Democracy Alliance (DemAll) with the following basic objectives:

Firstly, to use our profession to join in pushing forward activities to support a democratic form of government consistent with international civilized principles, with the values and principles of rights, liberties and equality and with no one above the law.

Secondly, to affirm that the professions of writing, arts and culture, reporting, creative work, and all forms of mass media are professions where it is necessary to work in a social environment of liberty since only freedom opens the door to innovative ideas, and at the same time, is a channel for mutual accountability.

Thirdly, to bring about a broad and strong professional synergy to support, aid and protect the functioning of all branches of the media safe from infringement and threats from both the state and capital in terms of rights, liberties and the security of a good life.

However, in the current situation the state powers choose to use measures to proceed with the arrest and detention of the people in the case of political demonstrations by the use of Section 112, a legal tool that has inherent problems in that it contravenes almost all fundamental rights that the international community accepts. There is also an order not to allow bail for many defendants, which goes against an important principle of criminal prosecution, that the accused or the defendant is innocent until the court makes a final judgment. Moreover, this loss of freedom is merely because the accused made public speeches calling for reform of the monarchy.

We affirm that the law and legal principles are important tools in the search for an agreement for coexistence under a democratic form of government. If the law and legal principles are not enforced with equal justice but instead display an attitude of intimidation and persecution of the people, that is tantamount to fuelling violent conflict.

In the name of the Thai Media for Democracy Alliance (DemAll) our first appeal is for the release of all the accused in cases of political assembly and an end to threats against people who have different opinions from the government whatever the case.

With a firm belief in the principles of rights, freedoms, equality and democracy,

Signed, founding members of the Alliance:

Prachatai English has corrected the content grammatically at 12.38 of May 2021. 

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