Minority groups in Golden Triangle
I attended a seminar on minority groups in Thailand.
Karen, Hmong, Akha, Lafu, Mien, Lisu are the 6 major groups. They are living in highland around the borders of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. They wear colorful and fashionable costume decorated with embroidery and silver. Each tribe’s costume is so different from others that you can recognize what tribes they are by their unique and characteristic attire.
I’m really into their ethnic fashion made with dexterous hand skills and what fascinates me is not just that. I think that their borderless living style is a kind of fantasy in this era of globalization and homogenization.
However, the reality is harsh.
Many people in minority groups don’t have nationality because traditionally they have been living in the mountains isolated from the plains where Thai people inhabit.
The Thai government used to ignore the minority groups but it has urged them to settle down in lower places.
As a result, they gave up their traditional slash-and-burn farming and headed for towns for jobs. Some of them were forced to work in very bad conditions and some of them had to sell their daughters for a living. And what is worse, some people went back to illegal drug business as they used to produce opium.
One of the solutions is that the government should give them nationality quickly. People need to receive equal opportunity in education, medical services, social welfare and such until they adapt to their new environment.
It’s not enough, though.
photo: from thailandsworld.com