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