Pro-democracy protestor Jatuporn “New” Saeoueng was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting Thailand’s queen through her attire.
A court in Thailand finalized the sentencing for Jatuporn on Monday. The activist was accused of insulting the country’s queen after she wore traditional Thai attire at a pro-democracy demonstration. She was charged with violating the lese majeste law, which addresses the defaming of the monarchy a punishable crime, and the Public Safety Act.
The demonstration — which took place in downtown Bangkok on Oct. 29, 2020 — called for the monarchy’s reform and mimicked a fashion show that was held by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
During the performance, Jatuporn wore a traditional pink dress and was accompanied by another protester who held an umbrella over her as she walked down the red carpet. On formal and public occasions, members of the royal family are accompanied by attendants who hold ceremonial umbrellas.
The protest was part of a movement in 2020 and 2021 that emphasized political change in the country, calling for democracy and reform. The protestors argued that King Vajiralongkorn and the monarchy held a disproportionately large amount of power to be considered a constitutional monarchy. The protests quickly lost momentum due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government action against the movement.
Although Jatuporn was initially sentenced to three years of imprisonment, the sentence was reduced to two years and a fine of 1,000 baht (approximately $27.55). However, Jatuporn still faces six additional charges, which she is prepared to appeal up to the country’s Supreme Court.
“I have no intention to mock anyone. I dressed for myself on that day, for a version of myself in a Thai traditional dress […] What’s wrong with that?,” Jatuporn stated in an interview.
“The mock fashion show was a satirical take on the political situation of the country […] Participants should not be punished for participating in a peaceful assembly,” Kyle Ward, the deputy secretary general of Amnesty International, shared in an email. “We urge the authorities to immediately drop all charges against those who have merely exercised their human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and release those arbitrarily detained.”
As of this writing, Jatuporn remains in the Central Women’s Correctional Institution awaiting ruling for her bail request.