BANGKOK — A transparency activist said he will petition Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha Friday to investigate the mistreatment of conscripts allegedly forced to perform various housework for a retired senior officer.
Srisuwan Janya said he will go to the government complaint center and file a petition to Prayuth, who doubles as Defense Minister, over viral posts on social media showing several conscripts reportedly being ordered to do personal chores at an unidentified retired senior officer’s house.
“This is a serious issue because it violates the dignity of draftees who may have voluntarily joined the army in hopes of serving their country,” Srisuwan said. “We can’t trust the army to probe into the issue by themselves.”
His move was ignited by now-deleted posts by Facebook user Laphatrada Waka, who claimed to be a daughter of a commander of a military base in Nakhon Ratchasima province, which showed soldiers doing household tasks for her, accompanied by derogatory captions.
One showed three men in army exercise uniforms washing a civilian car.
“The new soldiers are here,” she wrote. “They all got scolded. Hurry up because I’m going out.”
Apart from car-washing, the soldiers could also be seen in seperate posts allegedly ordered to clean the house, doing carpenter work, and even peeling off a durian for her. All were accompanied with belittling captions.
In one post, she looked down upon the soldiers, calling them “larb face,” a derogatory term for Isaan natives.
“Ugh, so sick of this. The soldiers at the house are always those with larb faces. Why doesn’t my father bring in the handsome ones?” Laphatrada wrote.
Playing down the alleged mistreatment, defense spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said Thursday it is a personal matter which society should validate where the post came from.
He pointed out that the use of conscripts as “servant soldiers” is unacceptable and considered it as an insult to the army.
“We are probing into the matter,” Kongcheep said. “The defense ministry respects all men in every rank and it’s not our policy to use conscripts for household works. Although this could happen from time to time as they may voluntarily want to, but if anyone violate their dignity, we will pursue disciplinary and legal actions.”
Netizens stormed Laphatrada’s Facebook account when the posts broke to public attention yesterday, resulting it to be taken down.
According to Manager, a source at Second Army Area headquartered in Korat said the photos were taken in 2018, when the senior officer in question was posted at a military base in Nakhon Ratchasima. He was then moved to Bangkok, where he retired in the same year.
Every year, around 100,000 young Thai men are drafted by lottery into military service. Reports of exploitation periodically surface, including a draftee who complained in a viral video last year that he was abused by his senior officer to raise fighting cocks.