BANGKOK — A group of Redshirts wants to know why those who helped pave the way for the 2014 coup have yet to answer outstanding charges of insurrection more than a year after they were filed.
Around 20 Redshirts rallied in front of the Attorney General’s office today in defiance of the junta’s ban on protests to demand an explanation for the delay in prosecuting 31 leaders and activists of the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State, or PCAD, which campaigned against the Redshirt-backed government from November 2013 to May 2014.
“We are here to ask, where is that rebel Suthep?” read one placard held by a Redshirt, referring to PCAD leader Suthep Thaugsuban.
Suthep, who left a leadership post in the Democrat Party to lead the protests, was the public face of the movement, which camped out in major streets to “shut down” Bangkok, besieged and occupied state agencies to disrupt government functions and blocked voters from casting ballots in a snap election, among other activities.
All 31 have been charged with insurrection, illegal assembly, inciting unrest, intrusion into state buildings and obstructing election for their six-month campaign against then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Winyat Chartmontri, a lawyer allied to the Redshirt movement, said at the rally although the movement’s leaders surrendered themselves to authorities in June 2014, a few weeks after the military seized power, prosecutors have yet to bring their cases to court.
“I believe many people are interested in this case. Naturally, they are suspicious toward the procedures of the Attorney General’s Office, which is responsible for this case,” Winyat said. “Why have they not sent the suspects to the Criminal Court?”
The Office of Attorney-General has not yet publicly responded to the protest.
Winyat said the office’s silence would perpetuate social friction.
“In order to save law enforcement officials from doubt and accusation, which will cause a new round of endless conflict in this country, I’d like to ask the prosecutors to explain to the people the developments in their case deliberations.”
Although the protests were initially aiming at opposing an amnesty bill engineered by the Yingluck government that would have absolved the corruption conviction of her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, PCAD later escalated its campaign into a full-blown effort to oust the entire administration it accused of being deeply corrupt.
In response to the protests, Yingluck dissolved the House in December 2013 and called a snap election for early February 2014. However, PCAD boycotted the election and led organized efforts to block many polling stations, insisting an unelected “People’s Council” be installed to implement national reforms prior to any election.
The Constitutional Court soon moved to invalidate the election results on the grounds some polling stations had been unable to open, and in May the military removed the government in a coup d’etat.
Complying with the ruling junta’s ban on political activities and protests, PCAD leaders kept a low profile after the military takeover, with Suthep entering the monkhood at a secluded forest monastery in southern Thailand for a year.
However, top PCAD leaders have since returned to spotlight. At a high-profile press conference in July, Suthep urged the military junta to further delay an election until its mission of national reform is accomplished.
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