• Indigenous peoples in Thailand

    Indigenous peoples in Thailand

    The Hmong, the Karen, the Lisu, the Mien, the Akha, the Lahu, the Lua, the Thin, and the Khamu are the recognised indigenous peoples of Thailand. Most of them live as fishers or as hunter-gatherers.
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  • Joint Statement: Human rights abuses occurring in the context of the World Heritage nomination of the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (Thailand)

Joint Statement: Human rights abuses occurring in the context of the World Heritage nomination of the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (Thailand)

H.E. Mr. Tian Xuejun, Vice Minister of Education and Chairperson of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO Chairperson of the extended 44th session of World Heritage Committee Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ms. Mechtild Rössler, Director World Heritage Centre Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re:   Human rights abuses occurring in the context of the World Heritage nomination of the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (Thailand)

Your Excellency, Dear Ms. Rössler,

On behalf of the co-signatories, I hereby submit to you a joint statement of Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and non-governmental organizations, in which we reiterate our serious concern about the persistent human rights violations faced by the Karen Indigenous communities in the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (KKFC). These human rights violations are of a continuing nature and are in many ways linked to Thailand’s efforts to gain World Heritage status for the KKFC. We also want to expresses our serious concern about the intentional destruction of Karen cultural heritage during the nomination process, the exclusion of the Karen communities from the process, and the disregard for their rights, their cultural heritage and their traditional livelihoods in the submitted nomination and within the proposed Outstanding Universal Value for the site.

We consider that the manner in which the nomination process has been carried out stands in stark contrast to some of the most fundamental principles, purposes and values of UNESCO, such as the furthering of respect for human rights, the protection of cultural heritage, the safeguarding of cultural diversity, the fostering of sustainable development, and the promotion of a culture of peace.

The attached joint statement includes a number of constructive recommendations on how to remedy the situation in the KKFC and achieve a nomination that is respectful of the rights of the Karen and serves to protect, and not undermine, their relationship with the land, their traditional livelihoods and their cultural heritage. Additionally, the statement makes several forward-looking recommendations for improvements to the Operational Guidelines that could help to prevent similar problems from arising in the future and make the implementation of the World Heritage Convention more respectful of the rights and cultures of Indigenous Peoples.

We would appreciate if you would kindly bring the joint statement to the attention of the World Heritage Committee’s extended 44th session, and encourage the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO to consider our recommendations.

We thank you in advance for your kind attention to these issues. Sincerely, 

Kathrin Wessendorf Executive Director

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)

on behalf of: IWGIA; Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP); International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on World Heritage (IIPFWH); Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI); Network of Indigenous Peoples in Thailand (NIPT); Karen Network for Culture and Environment, Western Region (KNCE); Indigenous Peoples Foundation for Education and Environment (IPF); Highland Environmental Management Network (HEMN); Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC); Lawyers' Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP); Rueda de Medicina A.C.; Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK); Minority Rights Group International (MRG).

>> Read the full statement here

Tags: Human rights

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