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Thai influencers charged with royal insult over adverts

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thai police charged three social media influencers with lese majeste yesterday over controversial social media advertisements for an e-commerce firm that mocked a member of the Thai royal family.

The TikTok clips promoting Lazada – owned by China’s Alibaba Group – enraged the public who called for it to be banned in the kingdom, and led to the Thai military barring the firm’s delivery vehicles from its premises.

Police Colonel Siriwat Deepo from the Technology Crime Suppression Division confirmed to AFP the arrest of the three people acting in the clips: Anuwat Pratumklin, Kittikhun Thamakitirat and Thidaporn Chaokovieng.

Their lawyer Duangrat Srinaunt told AFP the trio had been freed on bail and that they denied the charges.

In the clips Thidaporn, wearing a traditional Thai silk costume, sits in a wheelchair playing an influencer’s mother – which the monarchists said was an insulting allusion to a member of the royal family. The material also attracted criticism from disability campaigners who described it as distasteful and disrespectful to wheelchair users.

Shopping platform Lazada and the advertising firm which produced the clips have issued apologies. “We understand the content has traumatised the public and reduced human dignity,” the retailer said in May, adding the adverts had been taken down.

Thailand’s lese majeste laws have long drawn critcism from human rights activists, who say they are overly broad and misused to suppress debate.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Royal Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi. PHOTO: ABSCBN NEWS
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