Monday, 17 May 2010 22:30 Reporters Without Borders Editorial Dept - Free Press

Who are Firing the Shots that are Injuring Journalists?Reporters Without Borders called on the Thai Army and the Red Shirts to guarantee the safety of journalists covering ongoing clashes in Bangkok after three reporters were injured: a cameraman for France 24, a photographer for Thai newspaper Matichon, and a photographer for the Thai daily The Nation.

“The confusion reigning in various parts of Bangkok do not suffice to explain the shooting injuries sustained by several Thai and foreign journalists since April,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Both camps must comply fully with the requirements of international law, according to which journalists cannot be military targets. We also call for an investigation to establish who gave the orders to shoot a rebel general as he was being interviewed by journalists.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We note that Thailand has just got itself elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and we urge the government to guarantee the safety of civilians and put an end to news censorship, in particular, the blocking of the Prachatai website.”

Nelson Rand, a Canadian reporter employed by the French TV news station France 24, was badly injured today by automatic gunfire near the Suan Lum night bazaar. Cyriel Payen, France 24’s Bangkok bureau chief, said he was hit in an exchange of shots between soldiers and Red Shirts. A photographer with the Thai newspaper Matichon also sustained a gunshot injury in the same place.

“He underwent a very long operation and came out of the operating room at about 6 pm,” Payen said about Rand. “He is slowly recovering consciousness. He was hit three times by shots from an assault rifle. Once in the leg, causing the loss of a lot of blood. Once in the abdomen and once in the hand, causing multiple fractures. The doctors say his condition is now stable.”

A third journalist, working for The Nation, Chaiwat Pumpuang, was shot in the right leg on 15 May as the army tried to disperse Red Shirts blocked a road at Din Daeng in Bangkok. Continued shooting in the area prevented the photographer from being taken to hospital for half an hour.

A journalist working for Voice TV, a Thai cable station that supports the Red Shirts, was also reportedly injured in Bangkok. Red Shirt protesters harassed a TV crew working for Thailand’s Channel 3, accusing them of supporting the government. After an argument, the journalists were able to leave the scene.

Hiroyuki Muramoto, a Japanese cameraman working for the Reuters news agency, was fatally shot and a France 24 cameraman was injured in clashes in Bangkok on 10 April. The results of the official investigation into Muramoto’s death have still not been released.

Reporters Without Borders is also shocked by the methods used by the army to eliminate the pro-Red Shirt general Khattiya Sawasdipol, who was shot in the head yesterday while being interviewed by International Herald Tribune reporter Thomas Fuller. Another journalist who was there said the shot appeared to have been fired by a sniper.

Fuller told CNN: “I was facing him, he was answering my questions, looking at me and the bullet hit him in the forehead, from what I could tell. It looks like the bullet came over my head and struck him.”

At least three people have been killed and more than 60 have been injured in the past 24 hours in Bangkok.

Image Courtesy of DayLife - Anti-government 'red shirt' supporters assist Nelson Rand (sunglasses), a Canadian-born journalist working for France's TF1 network, to safety after he was shot while covering clashes with army soldiers near Bangkok's Lumpini Park on May 14, 2010. Thai troops battled anti-government protesters in central Bangkok on Friday attempting to seal off their encampment after an assassination attempt on a renegade general unleashed a new wave of violence.

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