Thai activists goad monarchy with ‘crop top protest’ vs. lese majeste law


Dressed in crop tops as a jibe against King Maha Vajiralongkorn, some of Thailand’s highest profile protest leaders paraded at a Bangkok shopping mall on Sunday, demanding the repeal of the country’s lese majeste law.

The protest leaders were joined by a few dozen supporters as they posed outside a fashion store selling designs by one of the King’s daughters. Many shoppers expressed bemusement.

Pictures of the future king in a crop top while shopping in a mall or riding a bike while in Europe were circulated in recent years by European tabloids.

Thailand has repeatedly blocked and sent takedown notice to social media sites showing the pictures and has threatened the shutdown of Facebook in the country for hosting what it says is “illicit” posts.

A small group of royalists briefly shouted at the protest leaders before being moved along by security guards.

Among at least 35 activists currently facing charges under the lese majeste law is 16-year-old Napasin Trirayapiwat, who wore a crop top and had anti-monarchy slogans written on his midriff at a protest.

“If we don’t fight for Naphasin today, nobody will be safe from expressing their opinions,” said Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, who is also facing royal insult charges which can mean up to 15 years in prison.

The Royal Palace made no comment and has not done so since the start of protests in July.

Government spokesman Anucha Buropchaisri said lese majeste was being used in accordance with the law and not to block freedom of expression.

Youth-led protests began in July to call for the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former junta leader, and for the drafting of a new Constitution.

The protesters demand later includes reforms to the monarchy.

The United Nations human rights office called on Thailand on Friday to amend the lese majeste law. The government responded that it was similar to libel laws. (Source: The Straits Times)