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Citizenship Rights Abuse

Worldwide, an estimated 12 million people are stateless—people who hold no citizenship of any kind. No citizenship means no country claims you. No justice system protects you. There are no guarantees your children will get to go to school or you will be able to find a job that pays a fair wage.

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.

"You cannot even imagine what life is like without an ID card in Thailand."

Noi a Hill Tribe member in Northern Thailand who fought for her citizenship for a decade before she met IJM

It should have taken only three to six months to prove that 9-year-old Mali* is a citizen of Thailand; instead, it took two and a half years of relentless advocacy by IJM.

Mali* Photo: Compassion International (*pseudonym)

“I feel like I have my dignity back. I don’t need to worry about going anywhere, when I used to be scared about police arrests. I don’t need to worry if my children can go to school. I know that they now have more opportunities in their lives for school and work in the future.”

Boon Si Hill tribe member after IJM helped her secure her citizenship documentation​​
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