Man gets two years in jail for mocking Thai king with a rubber duck calendar

Duck King Comp

A lawyer received the sentence for selling calendars featuring rubber ducks, a symbol of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement (Picture: AP)

A man has been jailed for two years for selling calendars featuring cartoon rubber ducks that judges ruled mocked Thailand’s monarch. 

The 26-year-old lawyer, referred to in proceedings under the alias ‘Tonmai’, was arrested at his home in December 2020. 

Rubber ducks became a mascot for Thailand’s pro-democracy movement earlier that year. 

Large duck-shaped inflatable dinghies, initially brought along as a joke to protests pushing for curbs to the power of the monarchy, had been used by demonstrators to protect themselves from violence by the authorities. 

FILE- In this May 12, 2017, file photo, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn addresses the audience at the royal ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand. Late Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, King Vajiralongkorn issued a decree stating that no member of the royal family should be involved in politics, quashing a bid by his older sister to run for prime minister in next month's elections. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X, has been the repeated target of pro-democracy demonstrations in the country (Picture: AP)

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 27, 2020 pro-democracy protesters hold up large inflatable yellow ducks, which have become a symbol of the demonstrations, during an anti-government rally in Bangkok. - A Thai man has been jailed for two years for selling calenders featuring satirical yellow rubber ducks that prosecutors said defamed the royal family. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP) (Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

At one such rally in November 2022, inflatable rubber duck dinghies were used to shield protesters from police, with them later becoming a symbol of the pro-democracy movement (Picture: AFP)

King Maha Vajiralongkorn and date walk through a mall in Thailand date unknown Twitter grab

One of the rubber ducks in the calendar wore a crop top and sunglasses, in apparent reference to a snap of the monarch wearing the same outfit (Picture: Twitter)

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group, prosecutors argued the ducks shown in the calendars sold by Tonmai were deliberately intended to resemble King Rama X, who’s served as Thailand’s monarch since 2016.

For example, the duck featured on the calendar page for September was wearing a crop-top and sunglasses, in apparent reference to a photo of Rama X in which the monarch appears to be wearing the same outfit.

Prosecutors also argued that the duck on the March page was defamatory toward the King. It apparently wore a condom on its head, likely in reference to Rama X’s reputation as a playboy and womanizer.

According to the courts, the defendant claimed he had been unaware of the content of the calendars, having been in charge of delivering rather than selling the items. 

His argument was rejected on grounds that the defendant possesses a law degree, and must therefore have had some sense of the calendars’ illegal content, given that the first page features a phrase closely associated with the monarchy. 

Although initially given three years, the defendant’s sentence was subsequently reduced to two years ‘in light of [his] valuable testimony’, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

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