Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawatdiphol heads a paramilitary wing of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) anti-government protest group that has occupied different parts of the national capital for the past two months. According to the New York Times report, Fuller was standing just a couple feet away from Khattiya when he heard a “loud bang” and the fatigue-wearing soldier fell to the ground.
Government officials had earlier branded Khattiya as a
“terrorist” for his alleged role in recent protest-related violence. Fuller’s
eyewitness account of the shooting underscores the rising risks reporters face
A week ago, Fuller and I shared drinks to discuss politics
and the deteriorating security situation journalists now face as
They emerged unharmed from that night’s firefight, but
Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto was killed by a
bullet fired from a high velocity rifle. CPJ is currently investigating the
circumstances surrounding his death, which both the government and UDD have
blamed on each other. Both Fuller and Muramoto had reported from other conflict
zones, but the unpredictable nature of
Many freelance reporters and photographers, who contribute to a wide range of international publications and are often present at the UDD’s crudely barricaded protest site, lack the training and equipment needed to mitigate risks to their security.
The Thai government has attempted to block people from entering the square-mile protest area, while the UDD requires that reporters show press credentials to enter the site’s main stage. But until both sides make a stronger commitment to protecting reporters, and as the conflict appears to enter a dangerous new phase, more journalist casualties and injuries seem inevitable.