Still of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, from paddidda's banned YouTube video.
pickup in Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Thursday 5 April 2007
Thailand's decision to ban video-sharing website YouTube has highlighted a growing crackdown by the junta against political comment online, a media rights group said on Thursday.
The military-installed government announced Wednesday that it had banned YouTube after authorities failed to block a video considered insulting to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a revered figure here.
The 44-second clip shows images of the king, crudely altered with a graphics programme, which flash on the screen to the tune of the Thai national anthem.
One image shows the monarch under a photograph of feet, which are considered the lowest part of the body in Buddhism. The image is hugely offensive in Thailand, a mainly Buddhist country.
The Southeast Asian Press Alliance said that while commentary about the king is culturally sensitive in Thailand, blocking the entire site raised serious concerns.
"Thais are now deprived of a popular and accessible medium that can accommodate alternative and independent voices," it said in a statement.
"There is a growing spectre of intolerance toward web-based media as a whole. The Internet is vulnerable in Thailand, and not just when it comes to material pertaining to the king," it said.
Since the military seized power in a September coup, it has also blocked political websites linked to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra as well as a university discussion board.
Police are also investigating a website calling on the king to sack his top adviser, Prem Tinsulanonda, over his alleged role in masterminding the coup.
YouTube is owned by Internet giant Google, and has a monthly audience of more than 70 million viewers. The company did not immediately respond to email queries for comment.
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© 2007 Agence France-Presse
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