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A 25-year-old protester has been indicted for royal defamation after burning the King’s portrait in a 2021 protest. The indictment said burning the portrait is tantamount to burning the King himself. The protester was later granted bail.

Joi (Pseudonym) faced 5 charges, including royal defamation, arson, illegal assembly, failing to disperse when ordered to do so by officials, and violating the Emergency Decree. The charges arose from incidents where he allegedly shot a slingshot at, and later set fire to, a royal arch during a protest at Din Daeng Tollway on 6 September 2021, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

Joi was arrested in 2021. He was detained for 20 hours before police showed him an arrest warrant. At the time, the court granted him bail with a 20,000 baht security, provided he wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

The indictment stated that Joi and other protesters caused chaos by throwing firecrackers and other objects at crowd control police, and by starting a bonfire on a public road. In addition, they reportedly failed to disperse when ordered to do so by officials.  Joi allegedly also shot a slingshot at a banner portrait of the King before tearing it down, stepping on it, and setting it on fire.

The indictment asserted Joi’s action showed malicious intent toward the King, that burning a royal portrait was tantamount to burning the King, and his act could be construed as an attempt to overthrow the monarchy and the democratic regime with the King as head of state.

According to the document, a royal portrait represents the King and stands for the highest institution of the country, the monarchy, with the result that respecting a picture is the same as respecting the King.

The court indicted Joi as charged. He denied the charges and was released after posting a 100,000 baht security.

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