Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a conscientious objector in Thailand, was singled out by the regime, and included on an annual list of celebrity registrants, usually full of singers and artists. Netiwit is a first-year political science student at Chulalongkorn University, and was described in the accompanying remarks as “a leader in the movement that called for the abolition of military conscription”. He was joined by Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat, a student activist leader who was violently abducted following a warrant from a military tribunal, accused of violating the junta’s ban on political assembly. Ja New has also spoken out about corruption and bullying in the military.
Their call up brought significant publicity. In an interview for Voice TV, Netiwit said: “They want to make someone like me to follow their discipline. If they say go and die, I have to go and die. If they say drown yourself, I must drown myself. It doesn’t make sense.” Netiwit said. “[Conscription] destroys creativity. It’s not for me, and it’s not for many people.”
Carrying a paper sign stating, “There should be several ways to demonstrate patriotism. Mandatory conscription is outdated and not necessary," Netiwit turned up at the conscription unit on Tuesday 4th April asking for a deferment, since he is still studying. He was granted this, but will face more calls up in future years. Ja New Seritiwat was also granted an exemption on health grounds.
WRI staff and member Hannah, Jungmin and Yonsuk visited Netiwit and other Thai antimilitarist activists in November last year. Read their report here.
Support Netiwit's Facebook page here.
Sources: Khaosod English, Activist ‘Ja New’ Alleges Abuse by Abductors, 21st January 2016; The Nation, Anti-junta activists Netiwit and Siriwith seek exclusion following Army call-up, 21st March 2017; The Nation, Anti-junta conscripts have nothing to fear, says military chief, 22nd March 2017; Khaosod English, Junta Critics Say They Will Defer Army Draft, 22nd March 2017; The Bangkok Post, Anti-conscription activist Netiwit seeks deferment, 4th April 2017.