By The Nation
The FCCT yesterday posted a statement complaining the police action as a threat to freedom of expression.
The group, had planned to announce on December 11 the "Run Against Dictatorship" campaign which will be held on January 12 nationwide.
Following is the FCCT statement on cancellation of the press conference:
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 organisers agreed to find an alternative venue.
On several occasions during the preceding five years of military rule, the FCCT was forced to cancel events, both those run by the club and those booked by outside customers. In all those cases the police explained that they were under orders from the military authorities, saying neither they nor the club had any choice in the matter.
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.
The FCCT continues to host a rich variety of events, including many which focus on free expression and dissenting political views, and believe such events contribute positively to the broader debate on Thailand’s future. We hope we will be allowed to continue this role in the future.
FCCT Professional Committee