Organisers of the “We Walk” march from Bangkok to Khon Kaen say they came under police pressure starting at 4am yesterday, the second day of the event meant to bolster civil rights.
The “People GO Network” Facebook page – where the entire walk is broadcast live – said a crowd-control unit of 100 to 200 officers arrived at 5am at Wat Lat Sai in Ayutthaya, where the marchers had spent the night, and loudly called for the group’s leader to come forward.
The group resumed the walk at 6am, but then encountered a police checkpoint.
It was reported on Facebook that all cars were searched, licence plates and ID cards photographed and people interviewed.
A truck carrying food and beverages for the marchers was taken to a police station and its four occupants interviewed without lawyers present. They were released almost four hours later without being charged, the group said.
Police were reportedly citing the government ban on assemblies of five or more people. The network decided to split the marchers into groups of four so the walk could continue.
The People GO Network is an umbrella group of civil organisations working on issues related to rights and politics.
The marching, aimed at raising issues on healthcare, food security, human and community rights and the Constitution, began on Saturday at Thammsat University Rangsit on the outskirts of Bangkok, with scores of activists joining.
The goal is to cover 800,000 steps or 450 kilometres, reaching Khon Kaen on February 17.
Coordinator Supaporn Malailoy told The Nation that Khon Kaen was chosen to reflect their demand for government decentralisation and because the route follows Mittraphap Road, whose name can be translated as “friendship”.
As the activists walk, they seek out friends along the route to share their ideas about civic issues and the government’s failure to address them, she said.