Representative Image AFP News/Mohammed Abed

A Thai man has been given a 50-year prison sentence for criticising the monarchy in social media posts. The man, identified as 30-year-old Mongkol Thirakot, was initially given a 28-year sentence by a lower criminal court for a Facebook post made three years ago.

He was later found guilty on 11 more counts by an appeals court, which added an extra 22 years to his sentence.

"The appeal court sentenced Mongkol Thirakot to 22 years for 112 over his 27 Facebook posts, in addition to the 28-year sentence already passed by the preliminary court. His total jail sentence is 50 years," the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) group said in a statement.

Mongkol, a clothes vendor from Chiang Rai province, was arrested in April 2021 over 27 Facebook posts he reportedly made about the monarchy. However, there is no clarity on the content of the posts, per an NBC report.

In Thai culture, the monarch is portrayed as above reproach, and any criticism of the ruler is considered taboo as well as illegal.

Any criticism of Thailand's monarchy can land you in jail for decades. The lese majeste law, often called 112 after the relevant section of the law, makes any negative comment about the monarchy criminal. It protects King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his family from all kinds of criticism.

The law was introduced in 1908, and human rights groups claim that it is often used to silence critics. In 2017, it was used to sentence a man to 35 years in prison for allegedly sharing photos and videos of the royal family.

Lese majeste was briefly suspended in 2019, however, it was revived after the country saw unprecedented student-led protests the next year. The demonstrators called for greater civil freedoms, as well as a loosening of the strict laws. However, the protests did not culminate in reforms.

It also needs to be noted that Thailand has had about a dozen coups in the last century, with protesters demanding that the military and monarchy become more accountable to the country's 70 million citizens.

The royal family continues to hold power even after the absolute monarchy was transformed into a constitutional monarchy in 1932. And people continue to prosecuted if they ever try and "defame" the royal family.

In 2021, a court in Thailand sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country's strict laws against insulting or defaming the monarchy. In 2018, a blind woman was sent to jail for posting an article critical of the monarchy on Facebook.

More than 100 people have been prosecuted for insulting the monarchy since the military took political control of the country in 2014, with most pleading guilty to get shorter jail sentences.