Thaicom Uplink is Freedom



The protesting Red Shirts in Thailand have seized the Thaicom uplink to ensure news broadcasts remain uninterrupted, via Political Prisoners in Thailand blog

The Bangkok Post (9 April 2010) reports that People TV satellite uploader Thaicom, “the country’s sole satellite service provider, said the government’s blocking of the red shirts’ People Channel television station (PTV) had severely damaged its international reputation.The company said foreign customers using the same transponder as PTV were threatening to sue Thaicom for their losses. An executive expressed concern that interference with the station’s signals could damage the satellite’s transponder.” He added “Despite the fact that signal jamming violates our contract and causes severe damage to our reputation, we must follow the order…”.

In response to the closing of People TV, The Nation (9 April 2010) reports that red shirts have broken through army “barricades and entered ThaiCom uplink station’s compound and were trying to enter the station’s buildings in Lat Lum Kaew, Pathum Thani province at about 2.40pm.”

The army used “smoke bombs” but were unable to stop the “thousands” of demonstrators who reportedly “seized police trucks park[ed] inside the compound and forced open and seized weapons from the trucks.” No evidence of this weapons claim presented anywhere else, including on a BBC report from the compound [but see update below].

There were said to be 7,000 anti-riot forces at the Thaicom site.

It is reported that red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan had “urged the red shirts to stay calm and not to raid the satellite uplink station.” However, when it became clear that the anti-riot forces were making “preparations for crowd control” the red shirts responded. These troops “were seen deploy[ing] the water cannon to deter the crowds after devices emitting heav[y] smoke were thrown from the crowds.”

By 5.20 p.m., the government had apparently agreed to restore the People TV broadcast. The Nation reports that “red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua said the red shirts had succeeded to force Thaicom uplink station to resume its satellite service to PTV.  The negotiations was brokered by Provincial Police Region 1 chief Lt General Krisada Pankongchuen. In exchange for the resumption of PTV broadcast, the red shirts agreed to disperse from the uplink station and allow police to gain control of the area.” People TV was back up by about 5.45 p.m.

It was reported that about 20 persons, mainly red shirts were injured in this action.

A brief but important victory for the red shirts but another action to “contain” anti-riot forces is already said to be underway at the Police hospital at the Rajaprasong intersection at around 6 p.m.

Update 1: This latter action seemed to coincide with action at the Rajaprasong area as “customers and workers were asked to leave shopping malls around Rajprasong. Police are reportedly preparing six locations to detain suspects.” This report is associated with a picture gallery at The Nation’s website. Note that the malls had already re-opened.

Update 2: Some international coverage of the Thaicom events: The Times, Christian Science Monitor and The Globe and Mail. Note that this latter report seems oddly different from all others that PPT has seen to date, referring to protesters “Hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails.” It also states that: “After the clash, some security forces were seen throwing down their shields and riot gear and shaking hands with the protesters.” The same report states that, “The Red Shirts offered water to soldiers and police, and showed reporters a small cache of weapons, including M-16 assault rifles and shotguns, they had seized from soldiers.” The government estimated that 15,000 demonstrators were at Thaicom.


Satellites and freedom: gotta love it.


Here’s the video, Thai guys & gals…