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A Thai activist got two years in prison for insulting the queen

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - A Thai court sentenced a political activist to two years in prison for insulting the monarchy on Monday, ...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - A Thai court sentenced a political activist to two years in prison for insulting the monarchy on Monday, her lawyer said. The activist was found to have dressed up as Queen Suthida during a street protest that the court said made fun of the royal family, so the activist was found guilty of insulting the monarchy.

In Thailand, it is against the law to say bad things about or insult the king, queen, heir, or regent. This is called "lese majeste," and Thailand has some of the strictest "lese majeste" laws in the world.

Her lawyer, Krisadang Nutcharat, said that Jatuporn "New" Saeoueng, who is 25 years old, was found guilty of intentionally making fun of the monarchy by what she did at a Bangkok street protest in 2020.

She is one of at least 210 activists who have been charged with royal insult in the last two years because of protests calling for reform of the powerful monarchy, according to the legal aid group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which keeps track of these cases by looking at police and court records. Reuters was not able to check these records on its own.

The palace has never said anything about the protests, and on Monday, there was no way to get them to say anything. When Britain's Channel 4 News asked King Maha Vajiralongkorn about the protesters in November 2020, he said, "We love them all the same."

In October 2020, Jaturporn walked a red carpet at a protest while wearing a traditional pink silk dress and being shaded by an umbrella held by an attendant. The protesters sat on the ground, as Thai culture says they should when royalty is around.

Many people thought that her protest sign was a picture of the queen, who King Vajiralongkorn married just days before his official coronation in 2019.

"Jatuporn has always denied the accusations and said that she usually wears traditional Thai clothes," Krisadang said.

"But the court sees it as making fun of the monarchy and slandering it," he said, adding that his transgender client would appeal the decision. She was told to go to a prison for women.

No one could get in touch with the court to find out what the sentence was. Most court cases in Thailand are not open to the public.

Thailand's traditional culture has respected the king for many years. In 2020, protests against the military meddling in politics turned into criticism of King Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne after his father, who had ruled for 70 years and was well-liked, died in 2016.

The protesters said that the military had used the need to protect the monarchy to justify taking power over and over again, including in 2006 and 2014. Both the government and the military have said that this claim is not true.

The protesters have also said bad things about the new powers King Vajiralongkorn got when he took the throne. For example, he was given direct control of the crown's vast wealth and at least two army units, which were announced in the official Royal Gazette. The palace has not said anything about these complaints.

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