Thailand

I am a conscientious objector; this means I will not take part in conscription or government required military service in Thailand. Military rule has dominated Thai society, not only now but also for a long time, and its power increases every year. However the Thai army is a joke for people around the world.

Since 2008, the Klong Sai Pattana community in Thailand have been resisting the encroachment of a large palm oil company - Jiew Kang Jue Pattana Co Ltd. The company has illegally occupied and cultivated palm oil trees, and the community believes it is behind escalating violence that has led to a number of deaths, in a campaign of intimidation they believe is being waged to drive them from the land.

[video:https://vimeo.com/195479149]

During a War Resisters' International trip to Thailand last month we met Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a conscientious objector. Here's a short interview by WRI staff member Hannah Brock, talking with Netiwit about conscription and the role of the army in Thailand.

Make sure 'CC' is on if you want subtitles (in English).

Hannah visited Thailand as part of the Right to Refuse to Kill Programme's work to support conscientious objection, and movements against conscription.

When I arrived in Bangkok in November, many people were in mourning Bhumibol Adulyadej - the king who died on 13th October after seven decades on the throne. I travelled there along with Jungmin Choi and Yongsuk Lee, two members of World Without War (WRI's affiliate in Korea).

This period of mourning was evident in peoples' homes, in public spaces, and in the very atmosphere of cities and town. Festivals were cancelled or curtailed, most people still dressing in black (or wearing black ribbons) over a month after his death, and memorials and commemorative videos found in bus stations, temples, and the metro.

Alongside this respect for the monarch lies a coercive tradition: Thailand's strict lèse-majesté laws (prohibiting criticism of the royal family) inhibit freedom of speech, and have been used against activists as a weapon. Dissent is a social taboo, as well as illegal under Article 112 of the Penal Code. Although the lèse-majesté laws only apply to the King, Queen, Royal Heir (now Rama X), and Regent, they have been widely used for suppression, even for those who mock the King’s favourite dog, Thong Daeng (Copper), and the Crown Prince’s poodle Foo Foo, who was elevated to the status of Air Marshal, complete with uniform. Many are arrested for innocuous Facebook comments and hyperlinks.

Since the most recent coup of 2014, a military government has been in place, and their rhetoric reinforces their position as protector and champion of the monarchy. So it was an interesting time to visit Thailand for the first time!

A new 9 minute documentary follows several transwomen in Thailand as they go through the experience of military recruitment. The film also shows the process of conscription, including the drawing of red and black cards to determine whether people go to the army for two years, or not at all.

In the trial of Vitaliy Shalaiko, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ukraine’s high court has affirmed the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to be drafted to the army even in times of war. COs will be allowed to do alternative service instead of being drafted. Also in the Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko has declared that the age of conscription will be increased from 18 to 20, and that the conscripts will not be required to fight in Anti-Terrorist Operation zones. He added that the army would move towards having more contracted soldiers.  

Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 8 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

Concluding observations: Thailand

(...)

Military schools

15. The Committee is concerned that at undergraduate level, where the minimum age for attendance is 16 years and over, the curriculum includes military subjects, such as weapons handling, land, naval and air logistics, military disciplines, and international laws.

16. The Committee recommends that the State party:

Thailand

Placheolder image
18/11/2009


The right to conscientious objection is not recognised for professional soldiers, nor for
serving conscripts.

Military recruitment
Conscription

Conscription is enshrined in article 73 of the Constitution of 2007, which reads: “Every person shall have a duty to serve in armed forces (...)”1.
It is further regulated in the Military Service Act B.E.

In the early morning of March 22, three peace activists were arrested at Saab Aerospace Systems’ weapons factory in Linköping, Sweden. Martin Smedjeback, Annika Spalde and Pelle Strindlund were on their way to disarm Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets intended for export to India, Thailand and South Africa.

The peace activists, who are all part of the anti-militaristic network
Ofog, entered Saab’s industry area in Linköping, 200 kilometers from the

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