MEDIA GROUPS called yesterday for the immediate release of senior Nation reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk, who is being held by the National Council for Peace and Order.
Today, The Nation will submit a letter addressed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also head of the NCPO, requesting Pravit’s immediate release.
The Thai Journalists Association (TJA) released a statement yesterday urging the NCPO to free Pravit and clarify its action, which “not only threatened the Thai people’s right of expression but also affected the country’s image”.
Manop Thiposoth, vice chairman and spokesman for the TJA, said the association had called on all media professionals to work responsibly and professionally, but the authorities must also exercise their power carefully.
“Keeping him in detention without any formal charge or clarification is against the principles of freedom of the press and the people’s basic rights under Article 4 of the provisional constitution,” he said.
The TJA supported calls for the quick release of Pravit. It also called on the military to clarify his detention and be more careful in taking any action against journalists, he said.
Pravit was summoned on Sunday to report to First Army Area Command headquarters and has since been under military custody. He was not allowed to take his mobile phone, and his condition and whereabouts remain unknown.
Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, in his phone call with The Nation, claimed yesterday that Pravit was summoned by the NCPO as an individual, not a journalist.
Sansern said Pravit had violated an agreement he had made with the NCPO after he was summoned last year.
He was called in this time because of what he posted on Facebook, the spokesman said without elaborating. Although it was Pravit’s personal account, he seemed to “think loudly in order to spread his message”. The message was “provocative and divisive”, Sansern said.
Pravit might be detained from three to seven days and would be asked to sign an agreement not to violate an NCPO order again, or he would be charged with sedition under the Criminal Code, the spokesman said.
In response to a request by The Nation to visit Pravit, Sansern said no visitors would be allowed to meet Pravit, a practice that was also the case for others summoned.
Sansern declined to elaborate where Ptavit was detained but insisted he was not subjected to torture while held in military confinement.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) also expressed concern yesterday over Pravit being detained.
“We urge the NCPO to release Pravit Rojanaphruk immediately. His place of detention should also be immediately made public,” the FCCT said in its statement.
“The detention of journalists or anyone else for the peaceful expression of their views violates Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law,” it said.
Thepchai Yong, editor-in-chief of Nation Multimedia Group, yesterday called for Pravit’s immediate release.
“There is no justification whatsoever for his detention. If the military believes he has done something wrong, there are normal legal channels to deal with it,” he said.
So far there has been no official explanation for Pravit’s detention and his family and colleagues have no idea where he is being held, he said.
“We see this as a direct threat to press freedom,” he said.
Pavinee Chumsri from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, who accompanied Pravit on Sunday to report to the NCPO, said yesterday that Pravit had asked her to act as his lawyer and an observer when he went to the First Army Area Command. But she was not able to enter.
After waiting for an hour, she was told that Pravit had been taken to another place. But the military officer would not say where and how long Pravit would be detained.