Activist sentenced to 2 years in prison for wearing Thai dress that ‘mocks’ H.M. Queen

Photo via Jatuporn Saeoueng Facebook

A 23 year old Thai activist has been sentenced to two years imprisonment for royal defamation, under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, for attending a protest in traditional Thai attire. Her catwalk show was interpreted by royalists as “mocking” H.M. Queen Sirikit, the queen mother of Thailand.

Bangkok South Criminal Court read the verdict of Jatuporn “New” Saeoueng’s sentence today, almost two years after she walked the catwalk in a traditional pink Thai dress at a protest in front of Wat Khaek on Silom Road in Bangkok on October 29, 2020. The court reasoned that Jatuporn intended to mock H.M. Queen.

The protest was held to oppose the use of 13 million Thai baht of taxpayers’ money for a fashion show linked to the royal family and called for monarchical reform. The protest fell on the same day as the launch of Princess Sirivannavari’s new clothing collection at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Protestors shouted, “Long Live the Queen” as Jatuphon walked the catwalk, while another protest held an umbrella over her head.

A royalist filed a lawsuit against Jatuporn for defaming the royal family under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, aka ‘lèse majesté’ law, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Police are required to investigate all allegations of lèse majesté.

Alongside lèse majesté, the Buriram-born activist was found guilty of violating the Emergency Decree for attending a protest which could spread Covid-19.

At first, the court sentenced Jatuporn to three years imprisonment and a fine of 1,500 baht. However, her sentence was reduced to two years and a fine of 1,000 baht for giving a “good testimony.”

Jatuporn testified that she always wears traditional Thai clothes because they make her feel confident, not because she was trying to impersonate H.M. Queen or insult the royals. She said it was misinterpreted that way by the plaintiff. Jatuporn wore a traditional Thai dress to hear the court’s verdict today, too.

The activist wants to appeal the case again. Her lawyer submitted a request for Jatuporn to be released on bail pending the appeal, with securities of 200,000 baht.

Jatuporn posted the following message on Facebook earlier…

“At present, the court sentenced me to three years in prison, but reduced the sentence to two years. It will take the Court of Appeals three days to process the bail application, so I am going to prison today.”

activist setneced roual defamation
Jaturporn attending Bangkok South Criminal Court | 12.09.2022

SOURCE: Daily News

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.