‘Run Against Dictatorship’ Forced to Cancel in Two Provinces

Supporters of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha hold banners in front of Phayao city police station demanding police to cancel the “Run Against Dictatorship” event on Jan. 5, 2020.
Supporters of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha hold banners in front of Phayao city police station demanding police to cancel the “Run Against Dictatorship” event on Jan. 5, 2020.

BANGKOK — At least two anti-government running events were forced to cancel by the police as of Wednesday.

Authorities in Ubon Ratchathani and Phayao provinces said they denied the permission to organize “Run Against Dictatorship” in their jurisdictions, despite confirmation by interior affairs minister Gen. Anupong Paochinda who said yesterday that the government is not exerting pressure against the organizers.

“We denied their permission because we’re concerned that the event would infringe on citizens’ freedom of movement,” chief of Ubon Ratchathani city police Pramote Chuenta said. “The event would also disrupt Buddhists who would come to give alms to monks at the City Pillar every Sunday morning.”

But local “Run Against Dictatorship Ubon Ratchathani” organizer Chatchai Kaewkumpord told reporters that the run would take place as scheduled on Sunday morning.

“Run Against Dictatorship” was originally planned only for Bangkok, but it spawned similar events in other provinces and even overseas cities like London, Berlin, and Auckland.

“I can’t cancel the event because I considered it to be already approved,” Chatchai said. “I didn’t see any official documents, only verbal refusal by the police.”

Phayao city police also made similar move on Monday. Superintendent Bawon Chaiyakum cited incomplete application form as the reason for their ban on “Run Against Dictatorship Phayao.”

“I asked the organizers to give me details about the event, but they couldn’t because they said they’re just envoys to deliver the form,” Col. Bawon said. “They also insisted that the event is not a political gathering, so I can’t approve it.”

The sports tournament, billed as a show of discontent against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, is spearheaded by student activist Tanawat Wongchai, thought he said he is not responsible for the parallel events in other cities.

The Bangkok’s event is set to kick off at 6.30am on Sunday at Wachirabenchathat Park.

A pro-Prayuth walk is also scheduled to take place at the same time in Lumpini Park in downtown Bangkok.

Related stories:

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‘Run Against Dictatorship’ Forced to Cancel Another Presser