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Students say “Run Against Dictatorship” media event to go ahead

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Apichart Jinakul

University students have finally been allowed to hold a press conference on the “Wing Lai Lung” (Run to Oust the Uncle) event at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Earlier requests for two other locations to hold their media gathering were denied.

One of them was the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand…

The professional committee of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand is concerned about pressure from Thai police to cancel a planned press conference. Over the weekend the FCCT’s management was asked by Lumpini police station to cancel a booking by a group involved in the ‘Run Against Dictatorship’ planned for next month. The group had agreed to pay to use the FCCT for a press conference announcing the event. The police explained that the title of the event was objectionable, and that they considered it likely to create what they called a “mob.” They also stated that there would be serious consequences for the FCCT – suggesting possible closure — if it did not comply with their request. After discussion with the group, the organizers agreed to find an alternative venue – FCCT Facebook page

The running event was foreshadowed at Saturday’s gathering of protesters in support of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and the Future Forward Party. The thousands that gathered on the skywalk linking the National Stadium and Siam BTS stations, heard the announcement about the proposed running event.

The anti-military student group calls the event “Run Against Dictatorship” in English. The Thai name, “Wing Lai Lung,” literally means “Run to Oust the Uncle,” a not-very-thinly-veiled reference to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, whose nickname is “Lung Tu” (Uncle Tu).

The 6 kilometre run is scheduled for January 12, 2020, although police have yet to approve the proposed route.

Whether the police considering the route will treat it as a political or sports event will soon become apparent. At this stage the government have had little to say about the proposed running event with the controversial name.

According to Thanawat Wongchai, an economics student from Chulalongkorn University and strategist of the Student Union of Thailand, the run will start from the university and head to the Democracy Monument. Runners will make three rounds around the monument before heading back to the university’s football field.

Participants are expected to gather at the university from 4.30am, with the run to start at 5.30am.

Final word about the application to hold the media conference from the FCCT…

Thailand has been under a civilian government since May this year, which should make such orders or even “suggestions” to curb free speech a thing of the past. In demanding the cancellation of this week’s event the police gave no legal justification, although they made it clear they were acting on orders from higher up.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | FCCT Facebook Page

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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