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Shutdown leaders shut down?

Pre-coup protest leaders accused of insurrection

Suthep Thaugsuban, centre, and other key leaders of the former People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) arrive at the Office of the Attorney-General in Bangkok on Wednesday to hear the indictments against them.

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The Office of the Attorney-General on Wednesday arraigned nine former key members of the Democrat Party on multiple charges relating to the anti-Yingluck Shinawatra government protests in Bangkok in 2013-14.

Deputy attorney-general Prayut Phetkhun said indictments were approved for Suthep Thaugsuban, 69, Sathit Wongnongtoei, 57, Chumpol Julasai, 48, Phutthipong Punnakanta, 50, Issara Somchai, 72, Withaya Kaeoparadai, 63, Thaworn Senniam, 71, Natthapol Teepasuwan, 52, and Akanat Promphan, 32.

They were leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) that organised the protests that led to the extended "Bangkok shutdown." 

The nine were charged with insurrection, illegal assembly and obstructing an election, among others. Mr Suthep and Mr Chumpol were also charged with terrorism.

All nine accused showed up at the Office of the Attorney-General to hear the indictment decision on Wednesday. They were then taken to the Criminal Court for arraignment. Defence lawyers reportedly planned to seek their release on bail of 600,000 baht each.

The Department of Special Investigation compiled and took the case to public prosecutors. It involved 57 accused people.

The PDRC started its protests in November 2013 after the Pheu Thai Party-led government proposed a controversial amnesty bill. Opponents viewed the bill as an attempt to end legal action against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Even though the bill was defeated in the Senate, the anti-government protests continued, demanding the resignation of then-prime minister Yingluck Shinatwatra. 

The escalating crisis led to Ms Yingluck dissolving the House of Representatives in December 2013 and calling a snap election for February 2, 2014.

In January 2014 huge crowds of demonstrators blocked Bangkok's main streets, determined to "shut down" the government. Protesters in Bangkok and the South, the political strongholds of the Democrat Party, also prevented advance voting for the general election.

In May that year the caretaker Pheu Thai government was toppled by the coup d'etat led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the present prime minister.

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Vocabulary:

amnesty (noun): a situation in which a government agrees not to punish, or to no longer punish, people who have committed a particular crime - การนิรโทษกรรม

arraignment (noun): bringing somebody to court in order to formally accuse them of a crime - การฟ้องกล่าวโทษ, การนำตัวขึ้นศาล

bail : money that is given to a court when someone is allowed to stay out of prison until their trial. If they do not return for the trial, the court keeps the money  - เงินประกัน; การประกันตัว

controversial : causing disagreement or disapproval - ความไม่ลงรอยกัน

dissolve the House : to formally end the House of Representatives, usually leading to a general election - ยุบสภา

escalate : to become much more serious or much worse - ทำให้เพิ่มขึ้น, ทำให้มากขึ้น

indictment : an official statement accusing someone of a serious crime - การฟ้องร้อง, การดำเนินคดี

insurrection : an attempt by a large group of people to take control of their country by force - การกบฏ

obstruct : to make it difficult for something to happen or for someone or something to go somewhere - ขวางทาง

resignation : the act of leaving a job, position of power, etc. - การลาออกจากตำแหน่ง

snap election : an election that is called before it is required by law - การเลือกตั้งทั่วไปที่จัดทำขึ้นก่อนครบวาระการบริหารประเทศของรัฐบาลที่บริหารงานอยู่

stronghold : bastion; an area where there is a lot of support for a political party  - ฐานเสียง, ฐานที่มั่น, ขุมกำลัง

topple : to force out of power; to cause to fall (also oust, unseat or overthrow) - โค่นอำนาจ

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