A reporter had a rubber-bullet gun thrust at her by a riot policeman during protests at the weekend, the latest escalation against journalists by Thai security forces against journalists working in the field.
Kamonthip, a reporter for a Japanese newspaper, was documenting the scene a couple of hours after riot police arrested peaceful protestors in front of Government House.
“I was one of the last reporters near the police line,” she told Thai Enquirer Monday. “The police were telling press to move back and get on the sidewalk.”
As she was trying to comply, “a group of riot police shouted at me to stop filming,” she said. “I asked why I was not being allowed to document, and why they needed to use guns to clear the area.”
“I stopped recording and got onto the sidewalk, and one of the police officers came in to talk to me. The same police that was in the video with the gun came in very close and I felt something hard on my shoulder. When I looked I saw the muzzle of the gun pointing at me. The police that came to talk to me separated us and was apologizing and saying nothing happened”.
She said she was clearly identified as press by the front and back of her vest, a neck tag, and a white armband.
The incident on Sunday is the latest in a series of actions by security forces against journalists that question the government’s intentions when it comes to free and fair reporting in Thailand.
A fortnight ago, two journalists were shot with rubber bullets while covering protests in front of Sanam Luang area.
Protests on Sunday
On Sunday evening protesters gathered at government house to demonstrate against the dismantling earlier in the day of a protest camp across from government house called Talu Fah village (หมู่บ้านทะลุฟ้า), with 60 people arrested.
Police moved in at 6 pm to arrest 32 more protestors, some of whom lay on the ground making the three-finger salute.
“I feel the police view us as a real obstacle in doing their job even though we are doing our own job,” Kamonthip said. “I think the police do not understand where we are supposed to be and what we are doing.”
“They should also learn when to use their weapons, because even with rubber bullets, you are not supposed to aim at the upper body or at any members of the press, who are not part of the conflict.”