The Australian sisters call on the Navy chiefs to ''suspend all military cooperation with Thailand until such time as this action against free speech and democracy is halted.''
The women, Jenny Braddy, Cathy Schmierer, Jill Morison and Lisa Kovaleff, noted that their father, John Morison, fought in World War II to help bring an end to genocide, yet the Rohingya were now being subjected to genocide in Burma without the Royal Thai Navy intervening.
The women's brother, Alan Morison, edits the Phuketwan online news magazine. He and his Thai colleague, Chutima Sidasathian, have been charged with bringing the Royal Thai Navy into disrepute and an offence under the onerous Computer Crimes Act.
The pair face up to seven years in jail but have said they will go to prison rather than seek bail unless the Royal Thai Navy withdraws the ''foolish and unjust'' charges relating to publication of a single paragraph from the Reuters news agency in July.
''It's understood in all democracies that no military should be beyond criticism,'' the women write in their letter to the Navy chiefs of Australia, the US, Britain and New Zealand.
The United Nations human rights chief, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and several other international rights organisations have issued statements calling on the Royal Thai Navy to drop the charges.
Phuket police say similar charges are also being pursued against Reuters and the two journalists who wrote the agency's special report on the Rohingya boatpeople.
An Australian embassy official said on Friday that a police officer investigating the matter told her that the Phuketwan journalists are likely to face court in March or April. The journalists were originally told they would appear in January.
Chris Lewa, the director of the rights group the Arakan Project, said this week: ''Thanks to the fair investigative reporting by the Phuketwan journalists, the involvement of various Thai agencies in the massive smuggling and trafficking operations of Rohingya refugees and their related miseries is no more a secret.
''Rights groups should unite to call on Thailand to quash these defamation charges.''
January 4, 2014
The Chief of the Australian Navy - Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO
The Secretary of the Navy, United States - Ray Mabus
The Chief of Defence Staff, Great Britain - General Sir Nick Houghton
Chief of Navy, NZ Defence Force - Rear Admiral Jack Steer
As four women who support peace, not war, we are pleading for your help. Our brother Alan Morison, who has been working as a journalist in Thailand, is being sued for criminal defamation by a captain on behalf of the Royal Thai Navy.
The captain is also using the Computer Crimes Act, an outrageous law designed to sink free speech and all it means. We ask your help because this is all about democracy. We believe the reputable navies of the world all support free speech and a free media in a free world.
We are peace loving sisters but our father John Morison went to World War II to fight for democracy in the Pacific and both our grandfathers fought in World War I at Gallipoli. One grandfather was wounded and shipped home, the other went on to the Western Front where he was gassed.
Our brother Alan was ready to fight in Vietnam. As a family, we've done our bit for the free world and democracy. Now Alan, it appears, is being condemned by the Royal Thai Navy for his award-winning work writing about the Rohingya, a stateless people who are being subjected to genocide in Burma and forced to flee to the sea.
We are certain we don't have to tell you gentlemen about genocide, or why WWII was fought. Thailand, you will recall, is where thousands of Allies died during that same war on the Burma railway, the Death railway.
We would hate to think they died in vain and that the lessons of democracy have not been learned in Thailand, of all places. But that appears to be the case.
It's understood in all democracies that no military should be beyond criticism. No military should be a law unto itself.
In defence of our brother, the United Nations human rights representative, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand and Australia's Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance have all called on the Royal Thai Navy to withdraw its criminal defamation action.
Because you four gentlemen understand so well the parallel roles of the military and the media in a democracy, we ask all of you to please suggest that the Royal Thai Navy calls off this inappropriate court action. If the action is not brought to an end, we suggest you suspend all military cooperation with Thailand until such time as this action against free speech and democracy is halted.
Yours respectfully in peace,
Phuket News Story of The Year 2013:
Navy Uses Computer Crimes Act to Sue:
Phuket Reporters Prepared for Prison: