UNESCO chief calls for probe into murder of Thai newspaper owner

20 January 2012

The head of the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom today condemned the murder of a Thai newspaper owner, editor and political organizer and called for an investigation into his killing.

Wisut Tangwitthayaporn was shot by a gunman on a motorcycle while driving with his wife on a major street in the resort island of Phuket on 12 January. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died of his wounds. His wife was unharmed.

“I condemn the murder of Wisut Tangwitthayaporn,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Media professionals and owners must be allowed to carry out their work freely and without fear. Only under such conditions can the media fulfil its responsibilities, contributing to democracy and good governance,” she stated.

“This brutal killing must be investigated and its perpetrators be brought to trial in the interest of press freedom and the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.”

Mr. Tangwitthayaporn was the owner of the Inside Phuket newspaper and editor of Phuket E-news, according to a news release issued by the Paris-based UNESCO.

He is also reported to have been a local leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, known as the “red shirts,” which was formed in 2006 to protest the military coup that deposed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.


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