April 20, 2000
His Excellency Chuan Leekpai
VIA FACSIMILE: 66-2-282-8587
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is dismayed by the recent assassination attempt against Amnat Khunyosying, owner and editor of the newspaper Phak Nua Raiwan, which is published in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
On April 18, around 4:45 p.m., an unidentified gunman shot Amnat in the stomach outside the Lanna View housing estate, off the Chiang Mai-Lampang highway. Just before the attack, Amnat was being followed by three men driving a Toyota Soluna car, according to CPJ's sources in Thailand.
The assailants reportedly left Amnat for dead. He was found by nearby residents who took him to Chiang Mai's McCormick Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. The journalist is currently said to be recovering after undergoing surgery.
Phak Nua Raiwan is one of the leading Thai-language papers in the northern region, and is known for its aggressive coverage of local political corruption. Police suspect that the assassination attempt was made in retaliation for the paper's reports on vote-buying and other irregularities, according to a report published in the Bangkok Post.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ joins the Thai Journalists Association in condemning this brutal attack. We urge Your Excellency to ensure that a prompt and thorough investigation is made into this crime, so that the assailants may be brought to justice.
Violent attacks against Thai journalists and official interference with the press have declined markedly in recent years, making the Thai press one of the freest in Asia. However, with journalists increasingly tackling corruption and other sensitive issues, it is crucial that authorities act decisively to protect them from violent reprisals.
We thank you for your attention to this matter, and await your response.
Ann K. Cooper