‘Stateless’ students granted citizenship under new policy

Some 548 formerly “stateless” students, who were born to ethnic minorities or displaced persons residing in Thailand before 1999, were granted citizenship at a ceremony presided over by Grisada Boonrach, the Permanent Secretary for the Interior on September 12, Grisada gave each student a National Id Card .

The ceremony at the Community Hall of Muang District, Mae Hong Son province, followed the Cabinet’s approval of criteria and procedures for acquisition of Thai nationality by children born in Thailand to stateless parents who have resided in the country for not less than 15 years.

The government has been working to create a path to Thai nationality for people born in Thailand to ethnic groups or displaced persons who have long resided in Thailand. The approach would be consistent with Thailand’s nationality laws and international human rights laws.

The Permanent Secretary welcomed the new citizens with a sermon on legal and moral obligations. He also encouraged these students to dedicate themselves to education and make use of the education to contribute to the country as decent citizens of Thailand. At the ceremony, these new citizens affirmed the oath of Thai citizenship in front of a portrait of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and sang the National Anthem to express their loyalty to Thailand and the monarch. 

The ceremony was also attended by various stakeholders from the province, including Mae Hong Son Governor Suebsak Aiemwijarn, high-level provincial officials, chief district officers, other relevant governmental officials, and representatives of local NGOs which have closely engaged in resolving statelessness amongst students with Mae Hong Son’s government.

The NGOs include the Legal Status Network Foundation (LSNF), the Development Center for Children and Community Network (DCCN), the Social Life Project (SLP), Thailand Lahu Development Foundation (TLDF), the International Justice Mission (IJM) and the 19th District of the Church of Christ in Thailand.

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