Thai court sentences political activist to two years in prison for insulting Queen

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A court in Thailand on Monday sentenced an activist to two years in prison under the royal defamation law.

In October 2020, 25-year-old Jatuporn “New” Saoeng was sentenced to two years in prison for participating in a pro-democracy protest in traditional Thai dress, which the court interpreted as a “joke” and “outrageous” to the Queen .

The activist’s lawyers said they were trying to get her bail after she was sentenced by a criminal court for insulting the monarchy and violating the Public Assembly Act at a protest held in Bangkok’s Silom area two years ago.

Reuters The report said the protest, which also featured a “mock fashion show” for which the worker was dressed as the queen, countered a fashion show organized by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratna, daughter of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn. was.

Local media said the protesters were furious and had called a rally to protest the use of THB13 million (US$416,000) in public funds to promote a fashion show involving the royal family.

During the protest, as Ms. Saoeng walked down the red carpet, other protesters chanted “Hail to the Queen!” Slogans.

A supporter of the royal family, Waritsunn Sribawornthanaki, filed a complaint saying Ms Saoeng had “ridiculously ridiculed the Queen”.

The activist was charged with royal defamation in July last year, a crime also known in Thailand as “les majeste” and which could carry up to 15 years in prison.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights says that since November 2020, 210 people in the country have been charged with a total of 229 violations of the “Les Majesty” law.

“13 cases have come up for hearing, and charges in three of them have been dismissed,” he says.

Meanwhile, Ms Saoeng told the media just before the court’s decision: “I have no intention of making fun of anyone. I wore a Thai traditional dress for myself that day. And today, I dress like that in Thai traditional attire to show that it’s just me and to ask – what’s wrong with that?”

She is also going to appeal against this decision in the Supreme Court. The court also ordered him to pay a fine of THB1,000 (£23.5) on Monday.

“The mock fashion show was a satirical take on the country’s political situation – a peaceful public event with music, food and dancing,” said Kyle Ward, deputy secretary general of human rights group Amnesty International. an emailed statement to Reuters, “Participants should not be penalized for participating in peaceful gatherings.”

Amnesty urged officials to “immediately drop all charges against those who have exercised only their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to release those arbitrarily detained”.

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