• Indigenous peoples in Thailand

    Indigenous peoples in Thailand

    The Hmong, the Karen, the Lisu, the Mien, the Akha, the Lahu, the Lua, the Thin, and the Khamu are the recognised indigenous peoples of Thailand. Most of them live as fishers or as hunter-gatherers.
  • Peoples

    3,429 “hill tribe” villages with a total population of 923,257 people can be found in Thailand according to the Department of Welfare & Social Development
  • Rights

    2007: Thailand votes in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Current state

    2016: 30 Chao Ley peoples are injured and 10 seriously hurt when the Baron World Trade Co. Ltd prevents them from entering their homes in Rawai in Phuket
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  • Thailand: Karens sentenced for encroachment on their traditional lands

Thailand: Karens sentenced for encroachment on their traditional lands

On 19 October, 39 Karens charged with land encroachment and illegal logging in a national park that has been their home for generations, were convicted for their alleged crimes. They are the latest victims of a new hard liner policy against forest encroachers, which is resulting in the criminalisation of some of Thailand most poor and marginalised ethnic groups living in areas overlapping with national parks

In June 2014, the military government of Thailand announced order 64/2014 to step up legal measures against forest encroachers and to reclaim and increase the forest cover. Although guaranties where given that the policy would not affect poor households and people already living within protected areas, so far, indigenous peoples such as the Karen, have been the first to suffer evictions from their forest homes and criminalisation for practising their traditional livelihood.

The 39 Pakayaw Karen indigenous peoples, residing in Tung Pa Ka District of Mae Hong Son Province, were arrested on 24 May, when cutting down trees for house building in the protected area surrounding their village. They now face fines or imprisonment.

The Thai Ministry of Culture recently recognised the sustainable lifestyle of the Karen and acknowledged that their traditional forest management is not a major cause of deforestation. The new order, however, puts additional strain on indigenous peoples’ right to practise their traditional livelihood and sustain themselves on their traditional land.

Read more about the situation of indigenous peoples in Thailand in relation to order 64/2014 in the following two articles:

Kongpob Areerat: “About 40 Karens prosecuted for forest encroachment” in Prachatai English 29/10/2014

Kongpob Areerat: “Junta’s attempt to ‘return forest’ hurts the poor” in Prachatai English 24/10/2014

Tags: Land rights

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