Thailand: First conscientious objector challenges the military

Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal declaring his conscientious objection

On 5th April, last Friday, Thai conscientious objector and human rights activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal declared his conscientious objection in front of a military conscription centre in Samut Prakarn province, openly stating his beliefs instead of complying with a call-up. His deferment as a student ended on Friday. He was not arrested. Thailand does not recognise the right to conscientious objection.

Connection e.V., War Resisters’ International, the Movement for Conscientious Objectors  (MCO)Conscientious Objection Watch, New Profile and World Without War are calling for conscientious objection to be fully recognised in Thailand. "Conscientious objection is a human right and must be respected, also by Thailand," said Rudi Friedrich from the conscientious objection network Connection e.V. "Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal must be recognised as a conscientious objector. There must be no prosecution or discrimination of any kind."

In his statement, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal said: 

"I declare my stance, since after the coup d’état in 2014, that when the time comes for military conscription, I will not participate. This decision is based on the belief that coercing citizens who are not willing to serve in the military violates human rights principles,... and contributes to undermining democracy in Thailand. Ten years have passed, and I reaffirm my original position. Military conscription does not promote equality among citizens but rather enforces a system of varying degrees of oppression."

Even though Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal has not been arrested, he is still facing criminal proceedings for his pacifist and politically motivated conscientious objection and thus three years in prison.

The South Korean conscientious objection organisation World Without War made it clear today how important Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal’s decision is: "Conscientious objection to military service is an act of peace. We remember the countless conscientious objectors who refused to take part in the slaughter and violence in Vietnam, South Africa, Iraq, Ukraine, Gaza and elsewhere. Peace and democracy do not come from military boots and guns."

“States claiming to be democratic”, Semih Sapmaz from War Resisters’ International added, “must respect international law and recognise the right to conscientious objection. The United Nations has repeatedly recognised the right to conscientious objection in the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Committee has also repeatedly recognised the right to conscientious objection in its General Comments and in its decisions on individual complaints based on Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Thailand is a party to the ICCPR. Also, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention holds that any detention of a conscientious objector is arbitrary and, therefore, a violation of international human rights standards.”

Connection e.V.

Conscientious Objection Watch

Movement for Conscientious Objectors  (MCO) 

New Profile

War Resisters’ International

World Without War

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