Never believe anything until it is officially denied
UPDATE Apr 30th 2009
Government has agreed to conduct the investigations into allegations and 2 independent commities are being set up for that purpose, with no time limit.
This was reflected in Thai local media today. I guess the main reason is – because opposition Puea Thai party has strongly insisted upon it as the condition for any referendums on national reconciliatin – they said they will oppose any referendum till the proper investigations are done.
Another case which is not so much reflected in Enlgish language Thai media (only Bkk Post occacionally provides limited story – Nation so far kept quite) is a case of soldier found dead in the house where PM Abhisit and Deputy PM Suthep has stayed on night Apr 12th and 13th. the circumstances are murky: Suthep and army boss claim that soldier “slipped on the floor” in the toilet. despite the urging from military to cremate the body ASAP, parents of soldier decided not to do so but instead to conduct the additional autopsy into the causes of death. apperently there were bruises found on his body too, and other evidences that he died due to heavy blow to the head – not because he “broke his neck” as officials insisted earlier. yesterday PT party MPs has debated this mater with Abhisit and Suthep in Parliament with live TV broadcast.
UPDATE Apr 20th 2009
On Apr 16tth has been posted relevent story on Photoblog – an interview with one Buddhist monk : “I saw Thai army shoot monk and people at Din Daeng”
This is post is about the present Information Blackout in Thailand due to recent social unrest and the disgraceful silence and self-censorship by Thai media.
There is a saying:
“Never believe anything until it is officially denied”
– Margaret Atwood (poet, writer, feminist and political activist)
First time I’ve heard it quoted by famous Aussie investigative journalist John Pilger (his documentaries got many international rewards), and he mentioned that these words actually belong to Claud Cockburn, another famous English journalist. Cockburn is mentioned as been in very close friendly relations with Mikhail Koltsov (“then the foreign editor of Pravda”) – whom Cockburn called ‘the confidant and mouthpiece and direct agent of Stalin in Spain’.
so, I guess when Cockburn made this statement – he knew what he is talking about ! 😉
because surely he knew a lot of things from Koltsov and knew how Koltsov has eventually ended up:
“Koltsov was summoned from Spain and arrested on charges of anti-Soviet and terrorist activities as part of The Great Purges.
He was sentenced to death and shot in 1940 or 1942, according to different sources.“
anyway, coming back to Pilger…
He uses this statement many times as a premise which he continually proves by his documentaries
(one can easily find many videos on youtube and google videos by searching for John Pilger).
so, according to him :
He quotes it in many places, almost each time he speaks. He used it in his award winning film “War on Democracy” too.
Here is another quoting it, in more particular relation to TRUE journalism and true freedom of speech (in 2000, against sanctions towards Iraq):
“I do think as a journalist that it is important that all of us understand that great power is unsentimental: it has no use for the truth.
Or as Claude Coburn once wrote: never believe anything until it is officially denied.
If we are to call ourselves free journalists I think we have to regard ourselves not as agents of power but as agents of people… “
wow ! Thai media I bet will never learn such a lesson ! especially the Nation 🙂
well, actually even Western media presented onlyl the heavily censored version of recent events in Thailand, more in line with Thai government’s OFFICIAL version. because as I know, at least 3 foreign reporters teams were present at Government Hous rally by UDD (and 1 by Thai PBS TV channel – the only one) when this call for help was voiced in their address from the main stage, however hardly any of present there reporters, both foreign and Thai, has tried to obtain more information, facts and evidence and present it in their reports :
Note: earlier clip was taken out from youtube.
however some other person has uploaded this video on his channel,
so now I’ve updated the link and clip can be viewed.
(one may see in the comments to this youtube video clip – how many slant, insults and abuse is poured on the speaker-girl in this video !
why one may wonder so much hate ? well – thanks to HUGE PROPAGANDA unleashed by Thai media and “officials” !)
In one of articles on Nation newspaper it was briefly mentioned that UDD leader Jatuporn has called ALL Thai TV channels and requested or almost begged them to take his interview – ALL of them refused ! furthermore, UDD’s TV D-Station and radio was shut down permanently, as well as all the community radios. UDD supporters abroad could still listen the LIVE broadcasting through on-line radio – but very swiftly MICT has blocked all of those websites too, one by one. It made sure that there is no ANY furhter leackage of information before army surrounded the main UDD rally at Government House where mostly old people , women and children were remaining – to ensure that in case if protesters do not surrender easily and will need to be shooted, then everything would be carefully covered up.
in past few days that followed, starting from Monday Apr 13th, government’s officials has appeared on all the TV channels to OFFICIALLY deny the claim by UDD that many people were killed during first army assault at protesters in the dark before dawn on Apr 13th at Din Daeng intersection. Even 2 “official” doctors participated at TV address by army spokesman Sansern, confirming government’s version “no deaths”, and showing the video of injured in hospitals. Sansern has strongly repeatedly warned public NOT to believe the “rumors” that anyone was killed. Abhisit has told BBC that he personally checked hospitals and haven’t seen any dead bodies.
well, but of course! all of them absolutely right ! sure, it is 100% true that there are non dead bodies in hospitals !
the questions is : WHY ? before it was permanantly shut down, D-Station broadcast had a footage of UDD leader Jatuporn speaking on the main stage, relaying what he was told on cell phone by those protesters who were clashing with troops at Ding-Daeng : that soldiers were taking out bodies quickly and professionally behinds their lines as they advances, loading them on trucks and taking them outside of Bangkok ! (similar tactic was used during 1992 Black May social unrest: many bodies were taken away by army and disposed of somewhere in deep jungle of Kanchanaburi province, as in following years many local residence were finding well concealed sceletons in some ravinces and deep places; this time most likely army will not repeat same mistake and make that nothing is left and sure to burn the corpses)
only Al-Jazeera channel briefly shown one old woman crying and mentioning it :
pay attention at 0:45 :
“a woman approached us in obvious distress. she told us bodies has been taken away in garbage trucks from the
Din Daeng intersection on Sunday night …. her husband was shot and never been seen again”
Does anyone see such interviews on any one of Thai TV channels ? of course not. why? because of thorough rigid censhorhip. we’ll come to that later.
here is another video, perhaps the only one available from that day :
bodies can be seen loaded, although it is not clear whether these are wounded or dead.
In his famous speech in Columbia University in 2006 J. Pilger was more particular about media role :
transcript of John Pilger’s address
I think it very much reflect the TOTAL INFORMATION BLACKOUT in Thailand now !
“During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said their spokesman, “that we were astonished to find, after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were, by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don’t have that. What’s the secret? How do you do it?”
My experience is that what the Russian journalists were referring to is censorship by omission, the product of a parallel world of unspoken truth and public myths and lies: in other words, censorship by journalism, which today has become war by journalism…
A venerable cliché is that truth is the first casualty in wartime. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty.
During the 1970s, I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group, Charter 77. One of them, the novelist Zdener Urbanek, told me, “We are more fortunate than you in the West, in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and watch on television, nothing of the official truth. unlike you, we have learned to read between the lines of the media. unlike you, we know that that real truth is always subversive.” By subversive, he meant that truth comes from the ground up, almost never from the top down. (Vandana Shiva has called this ‘subjugated knowledge‘).“
sounds familiar ? 😉 here is a hint: Thai media, especially Nation, has been antagonizing the Thai people since may be 2005, or surely since 2006.
and it is not a surprise that now they are the main mouthpieace (aka Propaganda machine) of so called “Democrats'” government ! 😀
In his recent radio interview AW has mentioned that Nation newspaper was “continuously villifying” the rural voters, and “this kind of vilification is what causes such a frustration which leads to events as recently in Bkk”. (pay attention to how Nation’s Senior Editor continues fallaciously villify protesters and rural voters even in this interview – I guess the main reason why AW felt like making that point)
well, since so called “Democrat” Abhisit (one may think – he never stuided at Eton and Oxford and therefore doesn’t know about BASIC liberty called FREEDOM OF SPEECH ! 😉 ) has ordered the Total censorhip / blockage of ALL the sources of information (read: CPJ: Thai government issues censorship decree ) which are not in line with OFFICIAL line methodically spead in Thai media (as this one ) – I am sure sooner or later Thai people will learn this very famous wisdom :
“Never believe anything until it is officially denied” – particularly the word OFFICIALLY.
may be Thais will know from now on: watch out for word “officially” or “official” or “authorities” – as soon as it is mentioned, than the TRUTH would be the opposite of what is being said.
so, they’lll start to discern the truth by sort of “negation process” : as in old days photography, when you print a photo from a negative film, what was black becomes white and opposite.
and who knows, may be Abhisit and his PR team will have to adjust to that situation and adopt new tactics of TELLING THE TRUTH ? although I doubt it very much.
SHAME on Thai reporters though ! they are disgrace to journalism.
Hopefully the future generations of Thai people will continually curse them for the lies they helped to spread and the bloodshed they caused by antagonizing different groups of people through their propoganda, while pretending to be “for Reconciliation” and “for Democracy”. “Media war” which Pilger defined, is very obvious in Thailand now, under the government of ruling so called “Democrat party” and its Oxford educated PM ABhisit, helped by ICT Ministry (who blocks all the websites). present generations though have no other choice but either swallow the crap or learn to discern the truth “between the lines”, watching out for “Official denial” !
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