Thai Military Orders Politicians To Meeting, Bans Negative Press
One day after staging a coup, Thailand's military summoned leaders of the ousted government and others tied to the country's long-running conflict to a meeting Friday. More than 150 people were ordered to convene at the Royal Thai Army auditorium — or risk arrest and possible charges.
Since taking power, the army has installed rules meant to restore peace and quell opposition, from a public curfew to limits on news coverage.
"The Army has warned the media not to disseminate any information challenging the army decision to take power in order to 'restore order,'" reporter Michael Sullivan tells NPR from Bangkok.
But the rule that's provoking the most pushback is one governing TV.
"Thai television stations remain off the air or limited to playing patriotic music," Sullivan says. "There's no word on when regular programming will be allowed to resume."
That restriction led many to take to Facebook, where they critiqued the TV musical offerings from the new ruling junta, which calls itself the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council. They asked for more variety — and perhaps for a children's TV channel to be restored.
From the AP:
" 'Since you're reforming politics, you might as well reform your music,' said one of many postings on the page, which had over 210,000 likes by Friday afternoon, up exponentially from earlier in the day.
"Song requests poured in - for Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, the Disney hit 'Let It Go,' and for foot-tapping Thai folk music.
" 'Please give us something more uplifting,' said another comment on the page."
The coup — Thailand's first since the military seized control in 2006 — has not brought reports of any large-scale violence; the streets in Bangkok are reportedly quieter than usual.
From Bangkok, Sullivan sent this update to our Newscast unit:
"Schools are closed not just in the capital, but all over the country. Public gatherings of more than five people have been banned and the army says there will be a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew again this evening.
"Both pro- and anti-government demonstrators are packing up their protest sites and being bused out of the city. The army has also summoned dozens of people it wants to question, including several former government ministers and the recently deposed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra."
Shinawatra reported to the Army meeting as ordered, according to The Bangkok Post, which says she "arrived at the Royal Thai Army auditorium in Thewes in a black bullet-proof Volkswagen van, with a vanguard of bodyguards."
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