THAILAND: Government blocks two pro-Thaksin websites

Websites shut down for showing video clips of last week's Thaksin radio broadcasts

Bangkok Post
Monday, May 28, 2007

by Kultida Samabuddhi

Two popular websites supporting ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, www.hi-thaksin.net and www.saturdayvoice.com, have been blocked.

The Council for National Security (CNS) has authorised the Information and Communications Technology Ministry to ban political websites found to contain provocative messages.

The ban follows the websites' broadcasts of Mr Thaksin's latest interview with community radio stations, two weeks ago.

Saturdayvoice.com is run by the Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship group, which was founded shortly after the Sept 19 coup to voice opposition to the military's ouster of Mr Thaksin.

The operators of hi-thaksin.net have never revealed themselves. However, the website has become a main channel of communication between Mr Thaksin and his supporters.

On the website, supporters of Mr Thaksin can find video clips featuring short speeches by him and updates on his movements.

The website also runs a discussion board, which was always flooded with messages supportive of Mr Thaksin and harsh criticism of the CNS and the Surayud Chulanont administration.

Sudchai Boonchai, leader of the Saturday Voice Against Dictatorship group, said the website had been inaccessible for a few days.

He believed it was banned because it contains a recording of Mr Thaksin's community radio interview.

In the interview, Mr Thaksin called for swift elections to restore democracy and confidence and voiced concern for underprivileged students affected by the scrapping of the digit lottery scheme.

Mr Sudchai urged the ministry to stop blocking the group's website.

"The closure of the website is more evidence that freedom of expression does not exist under the military dictatorship," he said.

He claimed that the ICT ministry had blocked the website several times, but only temporarily. However, this time it had been closed for days.

The website's fans were now viewing it through proxy websites, he said.

Mr Thaksin's legal adviser, Noppadon Pattama, criticised the ICT ministry for "overreacting".

"Mr Thaksin's words could not pose any harm to the country. I don't understand why they have to be nervous about his movements and had the websites shut down," he said.

He said the hi-thaksin.net website was a main channel for conversation among Mr Thaksin's supporters and its closure would obstruct their activities.