Thailand lèse-majesté: Activist jailed for dressing like Thai queen at protest

Thailand lèse-majesté: Activist jailed for dressing like Thai queen at protest
Jatuporn 'New' Saeoueng wears a pink silk dress and shakes hands with other activists on a red carpet at a satirical fashion show protest in Bangkok in 2020 Reuters

An activist in Thailand has been jailed for two years after a court discovered she insulted the monarchy by dressing up like the Thai princess or queen.

Jatuporn ‘New’ Saeoueng, 25, used a pink outfit at a political demonstration in Bangkok within 2020.

She refused the royal offend charge, saying the girl had just used a traditional dress.

Yet Thailand has infamously strict laws which effectively ban critique of the king as well as other royals.

Since California king Maha Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne in 2019, rights organizations say authorities possess increasingly exercised lèse-majesté laws to quash a protest motion that had demanded reform of the powerful monarchy.

Since November 2020, at least 210 protesters have been billed with lèse-majesté offences, after a three-year time period where the law was not enforced at all, Thailänder legal groups say.

Human rights groups strongly criticised the court’s decision on Monday. Jaturpon was sentenced in order to three years but had her term instantly reduced to two years.

She had attended the protest within 2020 as an artist dressed in a formal pink silk dress, where she strolled a red carpet accompanied by an worker who held an umbrella over the girl head.

The king’s wife, Queen Suthida, often wears official silk fashions designed for public events. Thai queens also often have attendants hovering over them with parasols at ceremonies and other events.

Jatuporn said in an interview published before the courtroom ruling: “I have zero intention to model anyone. I dressed for myself on that day, for any version of myself in a Thai tradition dress, ” the particular Associated Press documented.

The red carpeting protest – one of many that year vital of the monarchy and its particular influence over the military government – have been staged the same 7 days as a fashion show being held by one of King Vajiralongkorn’s daughters.

“The model fashion show was obviously a satirical take on the particular political situation from the country – the peaceful public occasion akin to a street festival, ” said an Amnesty Worldwide spokesman.

“Participants must not be punished for taking part in a peaceful assembly. ”

Last year, an ex civil servant who had been deemed to have been critical of the queens on social media has been sentenced to 43 years in jail.

The palace have not commented on either of these lèse-majesté instances.

The protest movement had at first targeted the military-backed government, led from the ex-junta leader who have seized power from the democratically-elected civilian authorities in a coup in 2014.

However its criticisms then expanded to include the new king and royal loved ones.

The movement shattered a taboo on criticising the particular monarchy, though demonstration leaders were careful to call for modifications to the institution, not really its abolition.

Protesters wanted greater overview after King Vajiralongkorn took direct power over the Crown’s immense wealth and leadership of two military divisions.

His once lavish lifestyle also rankled with normal Thais struggling among the pandemic.