Two more clips mocking Thai king appear on YouTube

BANGKOK, April 6 Fri Apr 6, 2007 12:00am EDT

BANGKOK, April 6 (Reuters) - Two more clips mocking Thailand's revered monarch appeared on YouTube on Friday, a day after the withdrawal of another that had prompted the army-backed government to block the entire video-sharing Web site.

One clip, 42 seconds long and titled "King of the Apes", was posted by "thaifreespeech", showing pictures of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, regarded as semi-divine in largely Buddhist Thailand, with a monkey's face.

"This VDO would give up to 15 years prison in Thailand because their leaders are evil and hate free speech," said a caption on one of the slides as the Thai national anthem played.

The clip had been viewed 7,800 views already and attracted more than 200 comments.

Like those on the withdrawn clip, which attracted a torrent of abuse, most of the comments on the new pictures urged YouTube to withdraw it from the site, www.youtube.com.

"Please YouTube, DELETE IT. it's really hurt Thai people feeling. to 'thaifreespeech' i cursing you. you'll never be happy 'til the end of yr life," wrote "iamboeing".

Another clip, 11 seconds long, defacing the Thai king and U.S. President George W. Bush by painting rings on their faces.

The postings were made just hours after a 44-second video clip was removed by its creator, "paddidda", who had prompted the Communications Ministry to block the entire site to Thai users.

That video showed grainy pictures of the world's longest-reigning monarch with crude graphics superimposed on his face. The most offensive image to Thais was the imposition of a pair of woman's feet, the lowest part of the body, on his head.

SITE STILL BLOCKED

The removal of the clip, which outraged Thais and created a lively debate on freedom of speech versus respect for cultural sensitivity, did not lead to a lifting of the Thai block.

Communications Minister Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said Bangkok's army-backed administration would continue to block YouTube until all offensive clips had been withdrawn.

"There is no other way I can go except blocking the site until all the offensive clips have gone," he told Reuters.

On Thursday, Sitthichai accused YouTube, which is owned by Internet search engine Google (GOOG.O), of being heartless and culturally insensitive for refusing to remove the first file.

"We have told them how deeply offended Thais were by the clip, but they said there was much worse ridicule of President Bush on the site and they kept that there," he said.

"I don't think they really care how we feel. Thailand is only a tiny market for them."

YouTube, which has dominated the user-generated online video market since it was founded in February last year, said it was disappointed by Bangkok's move and was "looking into the matter".

"YouTube reaches a wide global audience and strives to provide a community where people from around the world can express themselves by sharing videos in a safe and lawful manner," the company said in an e-mail response to Reuters.

Criticising or offending royalty is a serious crime in Thailand. Last week, a 57-year-old Swiss man was sentenced to 10 years in jail for spraying graffiti on pictures of the king on his birthday in December, a rare prison term for a foreigner.

However, the generals who ousted elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup last year have also used the lese majeste laws to stifle criticism of themselves or their actions.

Several Web sites calling into question the southeast Asian nation's 18th coup in 75 years of on-off democracy have been shut down by the army-installed government.

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