'Run to Oust Uncle' activist vows to fight on
Tanawat Wongchai faces a police summons but says the rally was legal and more activities are planned
Unfazed by legal pressure from authorities, Tanawat Wongchai, one of the organisers of the anti-regime "Wing Lai Lung" (Run to Oust Uncle) running event on Jan 12, says he will press ahead with such activities until he achieves his aim.
Mr Tanawat posted on his Facebook page on Thursday that he has been summoned to Bang Sue police today for organising a public gathering without notifying the police in advance as required by the public assembly law.
He insisted the organisers of the run were not obligated to seek permission from police and that this is a case of using the law to harass those who hold different opinions.
The public assembly law requires organisers of a public gathering to notify police no less than 24 hours beforehand. However, Section 3 of the law states says the law does not apply to sports or entertainment events.
On Jan 12, supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gathered in large numbers for their respective events.
The anti-regime Wing Lai Lung running event was held at Suan Rot Fai or Vachirabenjatas Park in Chatuchak district.
Meanwhile, people gathered to show support for Gen Prayut at another event called "Dern Cheer Lung" (Walk in Support of Uncle) at Lumpini Park.
A student at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of economics, Mr Tanawat is a keen political activist.
He stepped into the limelight on April 9, 2018 when he and other students held up placards with messages against Gen Prayut who visited the university to give a special lecture.
And on Feb 2 last year, Mr Tanawat and his like-minded friends gathered in front of Government House and read out a statement demanding the prime minister step down.
As one of the organisers of the anti-Prayut run, Mr Tanawat spoke of how he and his friends came up with an idea.
He said that Thais still have unpleasant memories of political demonstrations in the recent past, so they concluded that a running event would be a good choice to encourage people to come out in a show of force without the need to express themselves much in words.
Currently, running activities are popular with the public, he added.
Discussing the current state of politics, Mr Tanawat said he wants a real democracy instead of a dictatorship disguised as a democracy.
''I also want justice which is free of double standards, and for the public to enjoy real freedom,''Mr Tanawat said.
Mr Tanawat also shrugged off Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon's warning the next anti-Prayut run which is planned for Chiang Mai on Feb 2 will only deepen social divisions.
Commenting on a report that the run will be banned, Mr Tanawat insisted it will go ahead as long as it complies with the public assembly law, though he admitted that the venue may have to be changed, but still in Chiang Mai.
He said that anti-Prayut runs are also planned for other regions of the country but other formats are also being planned.
''We want those in power to show progress in addressing the country's problems.
"If they don't and continue doing the same things to the country, they will see new activities over the next three months. They will not be running events.
''Whether those activities will become fully-fledged political gatherings depends on those in power.
"If these activities are banned, it is likely that the public will come out to demand a better quality of life and a better future,'' Mr Tanawat said.
Mr Tanawat insisted he will continue with the activities until Gen Prayut and all those who have kept him in power step down.
He also said the anti-Prayut activities are funded by money from the sales of T-shirts for the events sold at 600 baht apiece, not lump sums from politicians as some had claimed.