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    Posted May 28, 2014 by
    Bangkok, Thailand
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Thai military declares coup

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    A Photo-Op for Caged Birds

    Day Six of the Coup is fast fading now. This afternoon, pandemonium broke out in the Land of Smiles for about thirty minutes when Facebook disappeared. The Bangkok Post announced that it had been blocked, and the Nation newspaper said its staff were all having difficulty logging on. Facebook returned as mysteriously as it had vamished.

    The Army PR news tweeted: “We affirm that we have no policy of shutting down Facebook and have assigned ICT to determine and fix the problem. It turned out to be a technical problem and as of 5 pm Facebook is back in service.”

    A contradictory announcement, however, had come from the Secretary-General of ICT, who stated that he had received an order to temporarily close down Facebook.

    It is clear that the topmost level of the regime realizes that one can take away many things from the public, but facebook is not one of them. By paying the rice farmers, the junta has taken care of the bread; it needs now to pay more attention to the circuses.

    A circus indeed surrounded the detention of Chaturon Chaisaeng, a high profile leader in the red shirt movement. Mr Chaturon had defied one of the infamous “invitations” for a re-education chat, and instead had given a press conference at the foreign correspondents club. Detaining him as he left a room full of foreign journalists may not have been one of the smartest moves. Mr Chaturon is highly respected as a hero of the 1973 student uprising which brought the first (and perhaps only) credible democracy to Thailand.

    In order to show that these detentions were not the Stalinesque “disappearances” that the western media may have expected, the army staged a photo-op. Colonel Nattawut, speaking on behalf of the junta, insisted that no one would be held for more than seven days and that no one was being tortured.

    Apparently, to get released, one has but to sign a form agreeing not to do anything that would have a negative impact on national security. One might compare this escape clause to the pinch of incense the early Christians were allowed to burn to the gods to get out of being eaten by lions.

    ABC News reported that Chaturon was wearing a clean white shirt, said he had been treated well, and that the room didn’t have air conditioning.

    It’s so nice to know that the media from the land of waterboarding and Guantanamo were so concerned about the detainees’ comfort.

    Let’s take a moment to remember Maya Angelou, dead today, and to say that here, in Thailand, the caged bird still sings.
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