[QODLink]
Witness
Recruitment Day
Young Malay Muslim men in southern Thailand are forced to sign up for the military draft.
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2011 13:56 GMT

Filmmaker: Orlando de Guzman
Co-producer: Mira Manickam

For over 100 years, Thailand has been engaged in a nation-building project within its borders. Its demands on its citizens are straightforward: loyalty to the king, the state, and Buddhism, the three pillars of Thai society.

But in a remote village called Dato in southern Thailand the population is Muslim, and the people's loyalties lie squarely with their Malay heritage.

Years of national assimilation have had little effect: the people there consider themselves Muslim first, and Malays second.

Partly as a result of its geographic isolation, the village of Dato has managed to stay disconnected from Thailand.

The village has also managed to keep its distance from the bloody conflict in the three southern provinces.

But every year in April, there is a powerful intrusion of the Thai state and its nation-building programme. Every village male who has turned 21 must report to the nearest army recruitment center, and sign up for the military draft.

The prospect of being drafted into a Buddhist-run army waging a war against their own brethren is not what many young Malay Muslims would want to be part of. But failure to turn up for the draft would mean possible arrest or jail time.

The military draft in Thailand relies on a nail-biting lottery system. After going through a humiliating physical check-up, the young men draw straws from a jar filled with rolled up slips of paper. Red means enlist, black means you are off the hook.

After spending a lifetime avoiding the Thai state, these young men's future lies at their fingertips: either return to their Malay lives, or become a Thai - a subservient subject in the king's Buddhist army.

Filmmaker Orlando de Guzman travels to the remote southern village of Dato, to bring us the moving story of two young village men, Ayub and Adik, as they face their own nail-biting recruitment day.

Recruitment Day can be seen from Tuesday, January 25, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 1630; Saturday: 2230; Sunday: 0930; Monday: 0330; Tuesday: 1630.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list