The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of media owner, editor and political organizer, Wisut Tangwitthayaporn, in Phuket on 12 January and called for an investigation into the killing.
“I condemn the murder of Wisut Tangwitthayaporn,” the Director-General said. “Media professionals and owners must be allowed to carry out their work freely and without fear. Only under such conditions can the media fulfill its responsibilities, contributing to democracy and good governance. 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.”
Wisut Tangwitthayaporn, was the owner of the Inside Phuket newspaper and editor of Phuket E-news. 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.
The journalist was shot by a gunman on a motor bicycle while driving with his wife, Jiraporn Hosakul, on a major street in the resort island of Phuket during rush hour. He was rushed to hospital where he died of his wounds. His wife was unharmed.
So far this month, the Director-General has condemned the killing of three journalists. In 2011, UNESCO recorded the death of 56 journalists and media workers.
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”