Asean urged to protect the Maniq people

14-Nov-2020 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should negotiate an agreement for the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, including the Maniq (Sakai), some of whom settled in the South of Thailand during the coronavirus outbreak, a forum was told.

Siwanoot Soitong, a lawyer for the Bangkok Legal Clinic at the Faculty of Law of Thammasat University, called for Asean to step up the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

“The Maniq live in Malaysia and Thailand and travel across the Sankalakhiri Range. Sea gypsies also live in Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia where territorial waters are interlinked. If you provide social security benefits by definition of nationality, it is outdated because we are now talking about Asean people,” she told the forum.

The seminar was held under theme of ‘Human Rights, Right to Health, and the Covid-19 Pandemic’ at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law on Tuesday. Her remarks were derived from the 37th Asean Summit and related meetings running until Sunday.

She also urged the government to create a database of the indigenous population and new job opportunities for them because this group of people were unemployed and excluded from relief measures during the pandemic.

“The Department of Provincial Administration and the Department of Social Development and Welfare should take the lead in building this database and helping ethnic groups register for financial assistance,” she said.

Meanwhile, Suebsakun Kidnukorn, a senior researcher for the Social Innovation Research Centre of Mah Fah Luang University, called for the state to reverse its negative attitude towards migrant workers in Thailand.

“We must recognise them as social and cultural citizens, not just economic ones, to ensure co-existence without stigmatising them,” he said.

He said the state views migrant labourers as the “other” that threatens national security and health, citing various policies as examples.

“On May 4, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation and Administration [CCSA] reported zero locally-transmitted coronavirus cases, but 18 new infections from migrants. This stigmatised them as the source of contagion. On September 8, the government set up barbed wire, closed borders, and sent patrol officers to prevent any illegal entry following the outbreak in Myanmar,” he said.


Category: Regional

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