Compulsory recruitment to the military affects different people and groups in different ways. This month we share the story of transwomen in Thailand. In many countries where men are drafted, trans* women1 are also recruited.
There are often rumours of conscription in times of political tension, or when right-wing spokespeople raise fears of the 'indiscipline of youth'. Such rumours often circulate without impact, but sometimes they are the start of a wider campaign and eventual reintroduction of compulsory military service.
WRI's Egyptian affiliate NoMilService are working with a new conscientious objector, Samir Elsharbaty. Samir has requested his exemption from the service in March. You can find NoMilService's statement supporting him here.
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.
We previously reported in CO Update that conscription had begun in Rojava, a de facto autonomous Kurdish region in Syria. Now, the government of Cizre canton has recognised the right to conscientious objection.
A story that we missed a few months ago, but that we think is well worth sharing!
KnowDrones, a campaigning group working to ban drones, placed an advert in the Air Force Times on September 14, 2015, which carried a message from 54 U.S. military veterans urging U.S. drone operators to refuse orders to fly drone surveillance and attack missions.
Draft Law 4020 has been adopted by the Ukrainian government. The law, instigated by President Poroshenko, allows the President, in 'special circumstances' e.g. during military mobilisation, to give only one months' notice of the draft. Notice is given in the media.
However, conscientious objectors who wish to apply for an alternative service need to apply two months before their call up. So in theory, if this practice is applied, it may make it impossible to take advantage of the right of alternative service.
ACOOC addresses recruitment to the military in Colombia, focusing on the phenomenon of arbitrary detention - usually undertaken through batidas (raids). Though batidas are banned, this report shows that, in practice, they are still common.
The report has been produced by the Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC: Conscientious Objectors' Collective Action) based on information collected in conjunction with other organisations and groups in the Proceso Distrital de Objeción de Conciencia.
In January, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that the army should release Cristian Andrés Cortés Calderón. Cristian had been recruited last August, whilst he was still in his final year of high school. Students are allowed to postone military service, but Cristian was nonetheless called up. In court, Cristian's father said that Cristian also works at night in a supermarket to financially support his family. The court ordered that he be released from the military within 48 hours.
The Court however also ruled that Cristian would still be liable for conscription when his studies end.
Sources: corteconstitucional, Sentencia T-004/16, 19 January 2016; Caracol Radio, Ejército no puede reclutar a estudiantes de bachillerato así sean mayores de edad, 23 February 2016.
Having reintroduced conscription temporarily (for a span of five years) last year, the State Defence Council decided in March that mandatory military service would be enacted indefinitely. The council's decision now have to be approved at the Seimas, the country's parliament. Conscription had been abolished in 2008, but was reintroduced - and defence spending also increased - citing security threats in Eastern Europe.