A political activist arrested in Thailand for selling satirical calendars with yellow ducks was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting King Maha Vajiralongkornsaid a legal aid group.
Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws are among the strictest in the world and carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison for each perceived royal insult. Hundreds of people have been arrested or jailed under the law, some for 43 years.
The yellow rubber duck is the symbol of an anti-government protest movement that in 2020 launched an unprecedented bid to try to reform the monarchy in Thailand, where the king is constitutionally “enthroned in a position of revered worship”.
The activist, whose lawyer requested anonymity, was sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence reduced to two because his testimony was deemed useful, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which has represented dozens of people accused of lèse-majesté. over the past two years.
He was arrested in December 2020 after police raided his home and found yellow duck calendars he was selling online.
“He denies the charges because he did not produce the calendars and the content of the calendar does not have features that would violate Section 112,” the lawyer, Yaowalak Anuphan, told Reuters, adding that his client was out on bail and was considering an appeal.
Article 112 was, until recently, a taboo subject, banned from debate in Thailand, but young activists have started discussing it on social media and in public, while some have pressed political parties to make it a reality. an election campaign issue this year. .
Human rights groups accuse the authorities of being overzealous in their enforcement of the law, which successive governments have said is necessary to protect the palace. The royal household does not usually comment on the law.