‘Run Against Dictatorship’ finally launches after police pressure

After twice having to move the location of their press conference, the group behind the “Run Against Dictatorship” finally launched the event in front of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University.

Tanawat Wongchai (centre) at this morning's press conference (Source: Banrasdr Photo)

The “Run Against Dictatorship” launch event was previously scheduled to be held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT), but that had to be cancelled after reported police pressure. A statement from FCCT stated that the police asked them to cancel the group’s booking and threatened FCCT with “serious consequences” if they did not comply, while the superintendent of Lumpini Police Station denied this.

The press conference was then re-scheduled to today (16 December) at 10.00 at Rattanakosin Hotel. However, Tanawat Wongchai, one of the organizers, said that the hotel informed him that they have been pressured by “those in power” into cancelling their booking. The group therefore decided to move the launch to the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University.

“Why are you afraid of a press conference about a running event?” Tanawat asked. “We have been prevented from holding a press conference twice. The first time was at the FCCT. The second time was today at Rattanakosin Hotel.

“If this country is really a democracy, why is it not possible for us to hold a press conference, which is one of our fundamental rights? This shows that Thailand is not under a democratic regime as the government claims to be, but we are under a dictatorship which is hiding behind the word ‘democracy’.”

The “Run Against Dictatorship” is a 6 kilometre mini-marathon organized by activist Tanawat Wongchai and other student activists.  It will take place between 4.00 – 8.00 on 12 January 2020. Runners will start at 5.00 from the football field at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus. 

“We insist that a demonstration is our right under the constitution, and we must be able to do it,” Tanawat said, but he also insisted that they will really be running and that it is not a protest.