Bangkok: A Thai man has been sentenced to two years in prison for selling calendars featuring satirical cartoons of yellow ducks that a court said mocked the country’s monarch, a legal aid group said.
Bangkok’s Criminal Court ruled that the calendar for 2021 contained pictures of yellow ducks in poses resembling and ridiculing King Maha Vajiralongkorn, diminishing his reputation, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.
The defendant was charged under the country’s lèse-majesté law, which provides for three to 15 years’ imprisonment for anyone who defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir apparent or the regent.
The legal aid group said the 26-year-old defendant, whom it identified by the nickname Ton Mai, had his sentence reduced to two years because he cooperated with the court.
The court declared that six illustrations in the calendar were made to mock the king.
Yellow rubber ducks were at one point a tongue-in-cheek symbol of Thailand’s pro-democracy protest movement.
The lèse-majesté law has long drawn criticism for its harshness and a provision allowing anyone to file a complaint, allowing its use for partisan political purposes. In recent years, it has become a focus of pro-democracy activists, who have called for it to be amended or abolished.
Two young female activists seeking its repeal and other judicial reforms are reportedly in critical condition after continuing a hunger strike for more than six weeks.