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I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the cowardly attack on Nick Nostitz. I have the utmost respect for Nick’s intrepid photo-journalism. Since 2007, he has provided the single best and most comprehensive first-hand accounts of political protests in Bangkok. He has always been at the front-lines, providing extraordinary documentation of critical events. He has often risked his personal safety and security. I also regard him as a close personal friend. He is generous, tolerant, and dedicated to the pursuit of truth.

The attack on him on 25 November 2013 must be condemned by all. It is inimical to free speech, human rights and democracy. The hate campaign on Facebook is terribly foreboding. Nick cannot be allowed to stand alone in this circumstance.

In the broader context, while I am in firm agreement with the Red Shirt positions with respect to social injustices, economic inequality, and social and political discrimination, and the need to improve the lot of the rural poor and urban working class generally, and embrace more progressive values, I cannot abide their association with the corrupt and venal Thaksin Shinawatra. But in the aftermath of the attack on Nick, this is beside the point.

Regardless of one’s political predilections, the assault must be loudly and roundly condemned.

I hope that Nick’s spirit has not been wounded by this despicable event. We need his reportage. But a democratic Thailand also needs people of his courage and devotion to truth.

Des Ball is Special Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. A sometime New Mandala contributor, in November 2013 he was awarded the University’s highest honour, the Baume Award.