Thai woman heads to prison for wearing traditional dress that ‘insulted’ queen

Jatuporn Saeoueng walks on a red carpet in a pink, traditional dress at an October 2020 protest. Photo: Jatuporn Saeoueng / Facebook
Jatuporn Saeoueng walks on a red carpet in a pink, traditional dress at an October 2020 protest. Photo: Jatuporn Saeoueng / Facebook

A 23-year-old woman sentenced to two years in prison this morning for attending a pro-democracy protest in traditional Thai attire the court interpreted as “mocking” and “insulting” the queen plans to appeal her conviction.

Lawyers for Jatuporn “New” Saeoueng said they were attempting to win her temporary release on bail after she was sentenced by the Criminal Court for insulting the monarchy and violating the Public Assembly Act two years ago at a mock “fashion show” held in Bangkok’s Silom area. 

Update Sept. 14: Activist convicted of ‘insulting’ queen with dress freed pending appeal

The Buriram province native wore a pink, traditional dress to walk a red carpet while another protester shaded her with an umbrella. The protest was called to oppose the use of THB13 million (US$416,000) in public funds to promote a fashion show linked to the royals and coincided with the launch of Princess Sirivannavari’s new collection of apparel at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

As she walked down the red carpet, protesters chanted “Long live the queen!”

Waritsanun Sribawornthanaki, an ultraroyalist supporter of the military government, filed a complaint that Jatuporn had “ridiculed the queen.” She was indicted in July 2021 on a charge of royal defamation, a crime also known as lese majeste that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Anyone can file a criminal complaint of lese majeste against anyone, which the authorities are obligated to look into.

The judges reduced Jatuporn’s initial three-year sentence to two years, according to Krisadang Nutjaras of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. She was also ordered to pay a fine of THB1,000 (US$27), reduced from THB1,500.

Barring her release on a bond while her appeal is considered, Jatuporn was due to be taken Monday afternoon to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution. 

Related

Protests to hit three parts of Bangkok today. Here’s where to find or avoid them.

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