For immediate release on 25 August 2016
UN urged to protect ethnic Maniq people from arbitrary arrest as a result of their lack of nationality
On 25 August 2016, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has received a complaint relating to discrimination based on race against the ethnic Mniq people. The Thai authorities were attempting to arbitrarily arrest members of the tribe for illegal entry while they were attending a meeting organized by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The Network of Southern Indigenous Peoples has submitted an urgent complaint to the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Committee of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) urging the UN to mete out prompt measures to stop the intimidation against the vulnerable ethnic Maniq people. They deserve protection from all state authorities and should not be subject to arbitrary arrest as a result of their lack of nationality since Thailand is a state party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and has signed the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
About 18.00 on 24 August, one uniform and four other plainclothes police officials have raided the Buri Sri Phu Boutique Hotel where the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was organizing a meeting chaired by Mr. Wat Tingsamit, the NHRC’s Chairperson. Amidst a large number of participants, the police made an attempt to arrest Mr. Poy without last name, 27 years, an ethnic Maniq from Satun who was there with his children to share an account of his livelihood and a lack of legal status. A person without Thai nationality, he has often encountered difficulties when embarking on a trip outside the designated area. With negotiation by staff from the NHRC and coordination with high ranking officials of the province, Mr. Poy was escorted back into his room, while the five officials have left though some plainclothes police were keeping a watch at the base floor of the hotel.
Mr. Wittawas Thepsong, Coordinator of the Network of Southern Indigenous Peoples, referring to the overall situation, has revealed that at present, about 300 ethnic Maniq people still live in the Banthad Mountain Range covering the provinces of Phatthalung, Trang and Satun, mostly in deep in the dense forest. Some of them have started to commute and get exposed to outside world as their food supplies have diminished, given their lack of legal status without ID card, they are not entitled to public services including medical service.
In addition, in the middle of August 2016, a five-year-old girl, Nam Fon Srimanang, was not well and taken to receive treatment at the Manang District Hospital in Satun. Upon the return to the forest, she was not better, so her father and uncle, Mr. Poy, have decided to take her back to the hospital again. With her condition not in its recovery, they were discussing about taking her to the Provincial Hospital in Satun. Given their lack of money and their improper dressing, they have sought for help from the Network of Traditional Fisherfolk and made it to the Satun Hospital on 14 August 2016. On 15 August 2016, the hospital allows her to receive the treatment free of charge, as news about her being hospitalized there broke out to public. This is contrast to the case of normal ethnic Maniq people who are not entitled to public services since they have not Thai ID cards.
The UN is therefore urged to help put an end to the violation of the rights of the indigenous peoples and to ensure their access to medical services. Right now, the ethnic Maniq have not access to basic services and rights and have to manage to treat themselves when getting ill without being able to seek help from public facilities.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Wittawas Thepsong, Coordinator of the Network of Southern Indigenous Peoples, Tel. 0874641225