Reporters Without Borders said Thursday it is shocked to learn that Wisut “Ae Inside” Tangwittayaporn, a freelance journalist and member of the “Red Shirts” political movement, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle today in the southwestern resort island of Phuket.
“Wisut Tangwittayaporn’s family has our entire solidarity,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities must carry out a thorough investigation into this murder, without ruling out the possibility that it was linked to his work as a journalist.”
Wisut was driving in his car with his wife on the outskirts of Phuket city when two men on a motorcycle cut in front of him and one of them opened fire, hitting Wisut four times in the head, neck and shoulder. Doctors said that one of the bullets severed his carotid artery and that he died from loss of blood.
The Phuket News, a local online newspaper, quoted the police as saying the grouping of the shots suggested that the murder was carried out by professional killers and that his coverage of land disputes or other stories may have been the motive. The newspaper also reported the Wisut was the leader of a group opposed to the private use of a Phuket beach and had many enemies.
Murders of journalists are very rare in Thailand, where online censorship and prosecutions for violating article 112 of the criminal code (on lèse-majesté) are the most common media freedom violations. Since last October, Reporters Without Borders was been waging a campaign to inform tourists visiting Thailand about the press freedom situation there.