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Facebook blocks group critical of Thai king as more arrests made | News

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Facebook blocked access within Thailand to a group of one million members that has criticised the country’s king but said it was planning a legal challenge to the government’s demand.

The move comes amid near-daily youth-led protests against the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military chief, and unprecedented calls for reforms of the monarchy.

On Tuesday, police arrested for the third time this month prominent lawyer and activist Arnon Nampha, the first-ever person to openly call for reforms of the monarchy. He was also arrested last week and in early August.

The “Royalist Marketplace” group on Facebook was created in April by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a self-exiled academic and critic of the monarchy.

On Monday night, the page brought up a message: “Access to this group has been restricted within Thailand pursuant to a legal request from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.”

Pavin, who lives in Japan, said Facebook had bowed to the military-dominated government’s pressure.

“Our group is part of a democratisation process, it is a space for freedom of expression,” he told the Reuters news agency.

“By doing this, Facebook is cooperating with the authoritarian regime to obstruct democracy and cultivating authoritarianism in Thailand.”

Pavin’s new group of the same name already had more than 455,000 members on Tuesday.

More arrests

Facebook said on Tuesday it was planning to legally challenge the Thai government after being “compelled” to block access to the group.

“Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to express themselves,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request.”

Thailand’s lese majeste laws, which forbid defaming the king with penalties of up to 15 years in prison, is often the basis for such requests to block or remove content on social media platforms.

Earlier this month, Thailand’s digital minister accused Facebook of not complying with requests to restrict content, including insults to the monarchy.

On August 10, he gave Facebook 15 days to comply with court takedown orders or face charges under the local Computer Crime Act, which carries a fine of up to 200,000 baht ($6,370) and an additional 5,000 baht ($159) a day until each order is observed.

Digital ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong said on Monday Facebook cooperated before the deadline because it understood the context of Thai society.

Putchapong did not comment on Facebook’s plan for legal action when asked on Tuesday.

The ministry last week filed a separate cybercrime complaint against Pavin for creating the group.

Meanwhile, Arnon was arrested outside a police station in Bangkok as he and other activists heard charges related to a separate rally at the army headquarters on July 20.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Arnon is accused of committing seditious acts. He is already facing several other charges.

Also arrested on Monday was Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, a youth activist who led a protest against land reclamation in Rayong province while Prime Minister Prayut was visiting.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge

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Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

STATEMENT
Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.

ChangeYouCanTrust

CountryBeforeSelf

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Is Johnson Byabashaija courting Enid Kukunda for protection?

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The very amiable Commissioner General of Prisons Canon Johnson Byabashaija was recently sighted with President Y K Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s second wife Enid Kukunda as the two had a very secretive meeting in one of the city hangouts.

According to our informers, the two seem to be in a deep conversation that they wouldn’t allow a housefly pass around. However, sources further reveal that Byabashaija could have courted the second lady for protection given that he has amassed a lot of wealth and could be a subject of investigations.

Our sources reveal that Byabashaija who carries himself as Mr.I know it all hasn’t met Madam Enid alone but a host of others with connections to the centre of power in the country.

We will bring you more detail

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Bobi Wine released on Bail

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Presidential candidate and kyadondo East legislator Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu has been realeased on bail by the Iganga magistrates court where he appeared to defend himself against accusations of flouting COVID-19 campaign SOPs. A defiant Kyagulanyi took the opportunity to blast the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, whom he accuses of using state power to quell dissident.

This follows a tense week that has seen thousands injured and several dead following Hon. Kyagulanyi’s arrest earlier this week. Demonstrations and riots erupted in many parts of the country and heavy police and army deployment was seen all over the country.

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