Man jailed for calendar said to mock king

Voice of democracy: Yellow rubber ducks were at one point a tongue-in-cheek symbol of Thailand’s pro-democracy protest movement. — AFP

A Thai man was sentenced to two years in prison for selling calendars featuring satirical cartoons of yellow ducks that a court said mocked the country’s monarch, a legal aid group said.

Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Tuesday ruled that the calendar for 2021 containing pictures of yellow ducks in poses resembled and ridiculed Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, diminishing his reputation, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

Yellow rubber ducks were at one point a tongue-in-cheek symbol of Thailand’s pro-democracy protest movement.

Narathorn Chotmankongsin was charged under Thailand’s lese majeste law, which calls for three to 15 years’ imprisonment for anyone who defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir apparent or the regent.

The court declared that six illustrations in the calendar were made to mock the king.

The legal aid group said the 26-year-old defendant, whom it identified by the nickname Ton Mai, had his sentence reduced to two years because he cooperated with the court.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement yesterday asking Thai authorities to “quash the sentence and promptly release Narathorn Chotmankongsin.”

“The prosecution and three-year sentence of a man for selling satirical calendars shows that Thai authorities are now trying to punish any activity they deem to be insulting the monarchy,” said Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“This case sends a message to all Thais, and to the rest of the world, that Thailand is moving further away from – not closer to – becoming a rights-respecting democracy.”

The lese majeste law has long drawn criticism for its harshness and a provision allowing anyone to file a complaint, allowing its use for partisan political purposes.

In recent years, it has become a focus of pro-democracy activists, who have called for it to be amended or abolished. — AP

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calendars , yellow ducks , insults , King


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