Thousands of Lao people who have lived in Thailand since the end of the Indochina war without Thai citizenship face many difficulties in living their daily life. For instance, they face restrictions in working and travelling around the country. And as the first generation Laotians who fled the war in their homeland to Thailand, they neither expect to receive Thai citizenship nor hope to go back to Laos.
In an interview with our VOA Bangkok stringer, the president
of the organization Laotians without Thai citizenship, Mr. Kou Sengphaivanh, who moved to Thailand when Laos changed
its regime and has been living in Kongchiem district, Ubon Ratchathani province in northeastern Thailand, said his people face difficulty in
many aspects, and since they are not allowed to travel
freely outside of their designated living area, they are prevented from seeking jobs in other areas of Thailand. And they have to request permission, when there is a need for them to travel to other regions.
In addition, because they are not Thai citizens, they cannot receive health insurance or free health care from the Thai government. Therefore, they have to pay the full cost on their own.
Mr. Kou, who spoke on behalf of the first generation of Laotians without citizenship, said that his group wishes only to be able to travel freely to seek jobs around the country and to receive some health care assistance from the Thai government so that they would not have to pay the full cost.
He also hopes that their children who were born in Thailand will receive Thai citizenship in accordance with Thai naturalization laws that were amended in 2008, which accord Thai citizenship to children of foreign nationals who are born in Thailand.
Currently, there are over 8,000 Laotians without Thai citizenship living in Ubon Ratchathani province. Most of the first generation Laotians in Thailand, who migrated there after the regime change in Laos in 1975, make their living as fishermen along the Mekong river, or work as laborers in farms since they cannot own lands.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.