Shot Journalist Cremated in Thailand

Funeral services were held Monday, May 24, for Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi, who was shot in the stomach and killed May 19 in the fighting between the Thai Army and Red-Shirt protesters in central Bangkok.

Polenghi was the second journalist to be killed while attempting to cover the violence that has wracked Thailand over the past three months. On April 10, Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto, a Japanese national, was shot in the chest and killed while filming confrontations between the protesters and soldiers. At least six more journalists have been wounded since the violence began.

In a prepared statement Bob Deitz, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia program coordinator, called on the government to "fully investigate the killing of Fabio Polenghi, including all evidence and ballistics to determine who was responsible for his death and bring them to justice."

Dutch freelancer Michael Maas, who was working for Dutch national TV, and Andrew Buncombe, a British reporter with the U.K. daily The Independent, were wounded on the same day. Chandler Vandergrift, a freelance Canadian writer and photographer and sometime contributor to Asia Sentinel, was reported seriously hurt in a grenade attack. He remains in intensive care at the Bangkok Christian Hospital following two hours of brain surgery, according to the Toronto Star.

Polenghi's work has appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle. A photographer for more than 20 years, he visited Thailand several times and previously visited the North and border region for a report about Burma, according to a release by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.

So far in 2010, 14 journalists have been murdered across the world, with Pakistan leading as the deadliest country with three dead. Thailand is tied for second with two dead. One reporter was killed in Afghanistan earlier in the year while covering the war.

The international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders issued a statement condemning the violence against journalists by the Red Shirt demonstrators and the government's continual violation of the right to information. "Thailand has rarely experienced the level of violence that was reached today, just hours after the army staged its assault on the Bangkok district occupied by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's supporters," the organization said.

"The right to information is more important than ever when a country is in crisis, as Thailand is at the moment," Reporters Without Borders said. "International law clearly states that journalists cannot be military targets. We are outraged to see the media being repeatedly targeted by both the army and demonstrators. We urge the Thai government to restore order without delay and to lift the media censorship."

Polenghi's sister and another relative flew into Thailand to claim her brother's remains over the weekend. A cremation was held at Wat Klong Toei Nai in Bangkok.