Rubber duck calendar lands Thai man in jail for insult to monarch

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A court in Thailand has sentenced a man to three years in jail – commuted to two years without parole, according to reports – after he was found guilty of selling a calendar that featured rubber ducks and which the prosecution claimed had defamed the country’s monarch.

Bangkok’s Criminal Court ruled that the calendar for 2021 contained pictures of yellow ducks in poses that resembled and ridiculed Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, diminishing his reputation, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) group said in a statement on Wednesday.

The suspect, Narathorn Chotmankongsin, 26, was found guilty of defamation and sentenced to three years in jail following his six-day trial which ended on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said.

The court declared that six duck illustrations in the calendar were created to mock the king, according to reports.

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“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,” Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Prosecuting someone for selling satirical calendars “shows that Thai authorities are now trying to punish any activity they deem to be insulting the monarchy,” Pearson said.

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