THAILAND: Interview with the conscientious objector Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal

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.

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Interview with Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, conscientious objector in Thailand

Related peace activists: 

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Military and monarchy: trip report from a visit to Thailand

Related peace activists: 

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

Memorials to Bhumibol Adulyadej seen in train stations and public spacesMemorials to Bhumibol Adulyadej seen in train stations and public spacesWhen 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!

Thailand: the experience of transwomen in the military

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.

My Declaration on My 18th Birthday: I am a conscientious objector

  • Thailand

My Declaration on My 18th Birthday

I am a conscientious objector; this means I will not take part in conscriptionor 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.

Committee on the Rights of the Child: Concluding observations: Thailand

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:

Thai Army Changes Terms for Trans Men

By Editors

Thailand’s defense ministry has altered the terms it uses when referring to transgender men, who would typically be exempt from military service.

When Thailand's annual conscription begins in April, "Type 2" will refer to men who have undergone breast enhancement surgery and “Type 3” will describe those who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery.

"Type 1" will refer to men “whose appearances are typical of men.”

Previously, the law has exempted transgender men from service because of a "psychological abnormality," according to the Bangkok Post.

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