Tribes demand to be Thai

A large and colourful mixed group of ethnic minorities converged on Government House yesterday to demand the government keep the promises it has made, particularly in granting Thai citizenship.

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A group of ethnic people from more than nine tribes around the country protest opposite Government House yesterday to demand the government grant them Thai nationality. CHANAT KATANYU

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Tribal groups call on govt to stick to vows

Rata Rojjanavaroe
Ethnic minority groups are urging the government to set up a central committee tasked with preventing their rights from being abused.

More than 600 tribal people yesterday converged on Government House to demand the government keep its promise to solve their problems, especially the right to live on their ancestral lands.

They came from various minority groups, such as the Karen, Lisu, Lahu, Akha, Hmong, Urak Lawoi, and Moken sea gypsies.


Maitree Jongkraijak, one of the leaders, said they had come to Government House because they wanted to find out how much progress the government has made trying to solve their problems.

Mr Maitree said the government had pledged to address the grievances of Thailand's ethnic minorities shortly after the Pheu Thai Party came to power.

Mr Maitree cited the case of the Moken people from southern Thailand, saying that they are being driven from their land, as well as their fishing grounds along the southern coast.

Their former hunting grounds have been declared national parks and deeds to land they say is theirs have been issued to other people.

Sanit Saesuang, 40, a Moken from Krabi, said they are losing areas to commercial fishing, being evicted from their own land and being forced to take down their homes.

"Because most of us can't read, it is easy for us to be manipulated," Mr Sanit said.

That is why they want the government to set a committee to protect their rights and interests, Mr Maitree said.

They also want the government to establish Cultural Preservation Areas and set up a 500 million baht research fund for them, Mr Maitree said.

Last year, people from several ethnic minority groups who live along the southern coast were charged with illegal fishing in national parks but were in fact only seeking shelter from a storm, said Poowanart Buaniam, a lawyer who represented several Moken people who faced such charges. The charges were laid because they had fishing equipment on their boats, he said.

People also misunderstand and have misconceptions about ethnic groups, one Karen man said.

"We have been living with nature for hundreds of years and have not caused ecological problems. We are looked upon as criminals who destroy nature but if you have lived alongside nature for as long as we have, you would know that we have formed a bond with and care for the environment," Prue Odo chaoe said.

Although each group has its particular problems, what affects them all is the lack of Thai nationality.

About 400,000 of Thailand's 1.2 million minority people do not have ID cards or citizenship. Without these they are denied equal treatment in health care, education, and other fundamental services. Discrimination by most Thais is also a problem. "We are Thais too but sadly most Thais don't see us that way," Mr Prue said.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit and PM's Office Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan yesterday met the tribal leaders and assured them their cries for help would be heard.

ethnic– of a group of people with the same culture or traditions กลุ่มชาติพันธุ์
tribe – a group of people of the same race, and with the same customs, language, religion, etc, living in a particular area and often led by a chief เผ่า, เผ่าพันธุ์
protest – to make a strong complaint or disagreement ประท้วง
opposite – across from or facing someone or something ที่อยู่ตรงกันข้าม
grant – to officially give something  ให้
nationality – the official right to belong to a particular country สัญชาติ,เชื้อชาติ, ชนชาติ
stick to – to refuse to change your mind about something  ยึดมั่น
vow – a serious promise สาบาน
ethnic minority – a group of people with the same culture or traditions who are living a a place where most people have a different culture and different traditions ชนกลุ่มน้อยที่มีเชื้อชาติหรือประเพณีและวัฒนธรรมที่ต่างไปจากคนกลุ่มใหญ่ของประเทศ
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
task with – to give somebody a task (job) to do  มอบภารกิจให้
right – something that you are morally or legally allowed to do or have สิทธิ
abuse – to use or treat someone or something wrongly or badly, especially in a way that is to your own advantage ใช้ในทางที่ผิด
converge – to come from different directions to reach the same point มุ่งหน้าไปยัง
ancestoral – involving people who are related to you who lived a long time ago บรรพบุรุษ
ancestral land – land occupied or owned by your ancestors and which you claim to be your own
gypsy – a group of people who do not live in one place for a long time but prefers to move around ยีปซี
progress – the process of developing or of getting nearer to achieving or completing something ความคืบหน้า
pledge – to make a serious promise to do something สัญญา
address – to deal with a problem จัดการปัญหา
grievance – a complaint about being treated in an unfair way ความคับข้องใจ
cited – mentioned as an example, explanation or proof of something else อ้าง, กล่าวอ้าง
declare – to announce officially ประกาศ
deed – an official document that gives details of a legal agreement, especially about who owns a building or piece of land โฉนด
issue – to officially give out  ออก
commercial – for business purposes เกี่ยวกับการค้า
evict – to force someone to leave a building or place where they have been living or working ขับไล่ออกจากพื้นที่   ไล่ที่
manipulate – to control something or someone to your advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly จัดการเพื่อหวังผลอย่างใดอย่างหนึ่ง
interest – an advantage or benefit to someone or something ผลประโยชน์
establish – to start a company, organisation, fund, etc. that will likely continue for a long time สถาปนา, ก่อตั้ง, จัดตั้ง
preservation – keeping something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed การสงวน
research – a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it การวิจัย
fund – money provided for something เงินทุน กองทุน
illegal – against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
shelter – a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay ที่หลบภัย  ที่พักชั่วคราว
charge – an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime ข้อหา
misconception – a belief or an idea that is not based on correct information, or that is not understood by people ความเข้าใจผิด
ecological – of the system of relationships between the air, land, water, animals, plants, etc., usually of a particular area เกี่ยวกับความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างสิ่งมีชีวิตในระบบนิเวศน์
bond – a close connection ความผูกพัน
environment – the place in which people live and work, including all the physical conditions that affect them สภาพแวดล้อม, สิ่งแวดล้อม
citizenship – being a member of a particular country and having rights because of it ชนชาติ, ความเป็นพลเมือง
deny – to not allow someone to have or do something ไม่ยอมรับ, ปฏิเสธ
equal – having the same rights or being treated the same as other people, without differences such as race, religion or sex being considered เท่าเทียมกัน
treatment – the process of providing medical care การรักษา
fundamental – central; basic; forming the necessary basis of something รากฐาน, หลักเบื้องต้น, พื้นฐาน
discrimination – the practice of treating someone or a particular group in society less fairly than others การเลือกปฏิบัติ, การแบ่งแยก
assure – to tell someone that something is true or will definitely happen ให้ความมั่นใจ, ยืนยัน

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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