Thai Man Selling Calendars With Duck Cartoons Gets 2 Years in Prison
- A man was sentenced to two years in prison in Thailand for selling calendars insulting the king.
- The calendars featured cartoons of a yellow duck that prosecutors said referenced King Rama X.
- He was convicted under Thailand’s infamous lese-majeste law, which prohibits mocking the royal family.
A 26-year-old lawyer was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison for mocking Thailand’s king.
His offense — selling calendars displaying cartoons of a yellow duck, which prosecutors said were satirical references to King Rama X.
Attorney Narathorn Chotmankongsin was arrested by Bangkok police on December 31, 2020 in his home, per Human Rights Watch.
He’d been selling the duck calendars on the pro-democracy Facebook page Ratsadon, Human Rights Watch said. Insider checked the page on Thursday evening, Bangkok time, and it had been taken down.
Prosecutors at Narathorn’s six-day trial said the calendars violated Thailand’s lese-majeste law, according to activist organization Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, or TLHR.
The law carries a sentence of up to 15 years for those convicted of insulting the royal family, and has been increasingly enforced since the royalist Thai military took power in 2014.
A Thai court ruled that the ducks on Narathorn’s calendars were a representation of King Rama X, citing how one page of the calendar showed a duck wearing a crop top and sunglasses, per TLHR. Prosecutors said the cartoon resembled photos of the king wearing a crop top, according to TLHR’s report of the hearing.
—Andrew MacGregor Marshall (@zenjournalist) August 28, 2018
Yellow ducks are known to be a symbol of the 2020 anti-monarchy movement in Thailand. Protestors have also been holding inflatable rubber ducks at on pro-democracy marches.
Narathorn was originally given three years in prison, but his sentence was commuted to two years, TLHR said.
“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,” said Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Thai authorities have in recent years come under fire from international rights organizations for a brutal crackdown on dissent against the monarchy.
Since 2020, more than 200 people have been charged under Thailand’s lese-majeste law, per the International Federation for Human Rights. One of those charged was a 16-year-old boy who wore a crop top and displayed words insulting the king on his body — likely a reference to the king’s love for crop tops.
Three influencers were also arrested in July after they made promotional Tiktoks for e-commerce firm Lazada that appeared to reference the royal family — though they did not mention any royals by name.