In the mountainous regions spanning several Asian countries, including Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Laos and China, ethnic minority groups known as hill tribes have lived in the same villages for generations. Country borders have changed and laws have developed accordingly, but many hill tribes have slipped through the cracks.
For thousands of hill tribe members, Thailand is the country of their birth, and Thai citizenship is their legal right. However, complex regulations, lack of access to resources, prejudice and government apathy block them from getting required identification documents and registration status to prove their citizenship. Without this documentation, they are not recognised as citizens of their own country. They are stateless.
Life without Citizenship Documentation
Without the citizenship documentation that is their legal right, Thai hill tribe members may be denied care at a hospital, prohibited from owning land, and arrested for traveling outside their home district. They are not guaranteed the right to attend school or to a fair wage for their labour. Without the protection of a justice system, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence, like sexual abuse and human trafficking.