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Home > Main Library > Human Rights > Discrimination > Race or Ethnicity: Discrimination based on > Racial or ethnic discrimination in Burma: reports of violations > Racial or ethnic discrimination in Burma: reports of violations against specific groups > Discrimination against the Moken

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Discrimination against the Moken

Individual Documents

Title: Stateless at Sea: The Moken of Burma and Thailand
Date of publication: 25 June 2015
Description/subject: "One of the few remaining hunter-gatherer populations in Southeast Asia, the Moken have made the sea their home. Foraging food from oceans and forests, trading fish and shells for other necessities, and traveling by boat across the waters of southern Burma and Thailand, the Moken have maintained a self-sufficient, nomadic way of life along the Andaman coast for hundreds of years. Approximately 3,000 Moken live around and on the 800 islands of the Mergui Archipelago along Burma’s southern coast, while an estimated 800 Moken are currently settled in Thailand. The Moken have lived in this area since at least the 18th century, though over time they have traversed the entire Andaman Sea.2 Most Moken spend their daily lives on small, covered wooden boats, called kabang. The Moken’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle relies on men, women, and children each playing roles in community subsistence, taking only the resources they require for survival and making minimal impact on the natural environment. Usually catching enough for their consumption and trade, Moken men use harpoons and, more recently, nets to catch fish. Moken women and children collect crustaceans and shells during low tide on beaches.3 When trading goods with land-based communities, the Moken usually work through middlemen operating in port towns along the Andaman.4 The Moken face deepening poverty, marginalization, and discrimination. Most are stateless, making them more vulnerable to human rights abuses and depriving them of access to other rights, including the medical care, education, and employment opportunities that Thai and Burmese nationals enjoy. Tightening immigration and maritime conservation laws restrict the Mokens’ freedom of movement, threatening their traditional lifestyle. In addition to government distrust and discrimination, the Moken often face exploitation from land-based communities, but are unable to seek redress through national laws and policies. In recent years, more Moken have decided to reside permanently in Thailand and Burma. Both governments should act to protect and promote the Moken’s basic rights, including taking steps to provide them with citizenship..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Format/size: pdf (2.2MB-reduced version; 3.2MB-original)
Alternate URLs: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/25/stateless-sea/moken-burma-and-thailand
Date of entry/update: 25 June 2015