Anti-Prayuth Run Organizer Hopes for No Confrontation

Organizers of "Run Against Dictatorship" hold a news conference in Bangkok on Jan. 5, 2020.

BANGKOK — An organizer of an anti-government running event urged its pro-government counterpart to ensure that there will be no confrontation when the two rival activities kick off on Sunday.

Tanawat Wongchai, the student activist behind “Run Against Dictatorship” scheduled for Jan. 12, said he already did his part to avoid tensions, and he hopes the rival group called “Walk to Support Prayuth” would not incite any violence. The pro-government event is organized mostly online, and it is unclear who organizes the run.

“We have retreated by organizing the event at a faraway location to order to reduce the risks,” Tanawat said in an interview. “We have done everything to avoid confrontation.”

Tanawat, who studies at Chulalongkorn University, said 10,000 people have registered to take part in the run, which starts at 6:30am on Sunday. About 2 million baht has also been raised from 3,000 registered runners who paid 600 baht donations that will cover the event’s organizing costs, Tanawat said. Those who opted for paid registration will receive a T-shirt and a medallion.

The event is set to take place at inside Wachirabenchathat Park, aka Suan Rot Fai, in north Bangkok’s Chatuchak district.

Pro-government walk for Prayuth meanwhile will be held inside Lumpini Park in central Bangkok on the same morning.

No group or activist has stepped forward as the organizer of the event so far. Messages sent to the event’s official Facebook page were not returned by publication time. In a Facebook post, the unnamed organizers made clear where they stand.

“If you… oppose orange water buffalos who hate the country, we are friends,” the message read, apparently referring to supporters of the Future Forward Party, whose official color is orange.

Tanawat the anti-government activist said his group has three demands to the Prayuth administration and will give them three months to respond: solve economic problems, amend the constitution, and put an end to nepotism.

Depending on the government’s response, or the lack thereof, Tanawat said the group will consider future actions.

“Run Against Dictatorship” also spawns similar running events in 20 provinces on the same day, mostly organized by online groups, but Tanawat insisted he is not responsible for them.

“We want it to be made clear that it’s a different team from the one organizing the Bangkok event,” Tanawat said.