The Importance of Netiwit’s Resistance to Military Conscription

Phra Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal photographed 2022

Written by Settanant Thanakitkoses

On April 9th, 2023, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a Thai activist, currently known as the
monastic name Phra Jaranasampanno, announced his stance against conscription by refusing
to report to the military service call, when his deferral period expired after reaching the age
of 27 as written in Thai Act on Military Service. [1]

Looking back, Netiwit had announced his intention to be a conscientious objector
since he turned 18 years old, as stated in his declaration published on the War Resisters’
International [2] website. He has remained consistent in his stance, throughout various media
interviews and his academic work on resisting conscription including books of Sam Yan Press,
a publisher founded by him.[3]

In the history of Thailand’s military conscription, although there are many who
disagree with the regarding matter, most of them comply with it due to the fear of legal
consequences. For those who have ways to avoid it, they utilize the gaps of underlying
channels to be exempted from military conscription. Very few have the courage to directly
oppose, but they do it discreetly without publicly denoting their refutation. In fact, it is rare
to find cases of conscientious opposition publicly declared against the institution of military

Due to his declaration, Netiwit’s decision to object to conscription is based on his
belief in non-violence and his opposition to the concept of mandatory military service. His
stance aligns with the international movement of meticulous objectors who assert the rights
based on their moral or religious beliefs to reject military enlistment. Therefore, Netiwit’s
case can be considered the first official pronouncement of conscientious objection in

Netiwit’s proclamation brings attention to the issue of compulsory armed enlistment in
Thailand and the need for an open discussion on the mentioned matter. While the right to
this expostulation is not yet legally recognized in Thailand, Netiwit’s case could significantly
be a catalyst for changes in the country’s conscription policy.

Read Netiwit’s proclaimation:

Faith and Freedom: My Decision to Disrobe and Uphold My Beliefs – netiwit
chotiphatphaisol –

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