Thailand bans YouTube over videos insulting king

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Friday, April 6, 2007

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YouTube, a popular video hosting website, has been banned by the government of Thailand after at least 3 videos insulting Thailand's King, Bhumibol Adulyadej were uploaded to the site.

The first video which was "removed by user," has turned up again, uploaded from a different user than the first posting, claiming to be from Iceland. The second video was uploaded as recently as April 5 and the third has been on YouTube since March 12.

The government states that the ban on YouTube will continue. Google, who owns YouTube, refused to remove the video saying videos of the current United States president George W. Bush are worse than those of Thailand's King.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan (right) presents the Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Credit: UN May 2006

"That's [the removal of the video] not enough. We want the picture removed too before we unblock it," said Thailand's Minister of Information and Technology, Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom who also said that he sent a request to Google to have the image removed from the site, but Google has not yet responded.

"It's hard to tell how they [Google] will respond. In some countries, it's a norm to have their leaders mocked, but this is different. With the king, it is very offensive to the Thai public. YouTube said it thought there was not enough reason to remove the clip after viewing the video and making its judgement on the content," added Pookaiyaudom.

Google later replied to the King stating that the video will not be removed, but that YouTube has a plan to only allow certain videos to be viewed without blocking the whole site.

"He said pulling out those clips would not be an effective way to stop the damage, since users could re-post them again. He said a more effective way would be to block certain pages not to be seen in Thailand. It will be a few days before we lift the ban on the entire site," added Pookaiyaudom.

The text of the first video, scrolled across the screen, stated "This video would give up to 15 years prison in Thailand, because their leaders are evil (sic) and hate free speech. A Swiss man, Oliver Rudolf Jufer, 57, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for spray-painting graffiti over Thailand's revered King. Fuck Thailand leaders and the ape king."

The 44 second-long video, posted April 4, 2007 shows images of King Adulyadej drawn over and made to look like a monkey or an ape and a "juxtaposed" image with feet on top of King Adulyadej, pointing just under his nose. In Thailand, feet are seen as a dirty side of humans and people there think of feet as being offensive and rude. Playing in the background of the video was the music of the national anthem of Thailand.

In the second video, posted on March 12, 2007, shows still images of leaders from different nations around the world, King Adulyadej is seen with black painted over his face, imitating thick dark eyebrows and a mustache.

In the third video, the feet are again placed just under the King's nose when halfway through the film, his image is vandalized by showing his eyed "bugged out of his head" and the Wat Kaow Roop Chang Temple in Songkhla in between his eyes.

The first video was viewed nearly 70,000 times before the original user removed it from YouTube.

Sources

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