FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENSHIP
To be stateless is to be without a place that you can legally call home. Stateless people are denied basic rights, including the right to freedom of movement, work, education, property and it can rob children of a stable future.1 Not being recognized as citizens of Burma makes it very difficult to return to a stable life in that country.
Living in Thailand is also fraught with danger and difficulty for many children from Burma who are considered illegal. They face discrimination, poverty and a lack of access to health and education. At home children can face harsh discipline, neglect, physical and sexual abuse. They can be forced into many forms of work which can harm their health and development. There is also the risk of being trafficked and working in the sex industry.
Efforts to combat statelessness are vital. The UNHCR has stated the importance of documenting those who are stateless in order to protect their rights and dignity and to work towards future recognition.2 The Committee for Protection and Promotion of Child Rights [Burma] (CPPCR) was established in 2002 to document the births of children of migrants from Burma for the purpose of having them recognized as Burmese citizens in the future. CPPCR has also sought to assist children from Burma to gain legal status while living in Thailand. For 10 years CPPCR has been working to document migrant children and to advocate on their behalf to both Thai and Burmese authorities.
CPPCR also works with the migrant community from Burma to prevent and respond to the conditions that violate child rights and situations that harm children. •
- Preventative activities include birth registration, advocacy and community education on child rights issues with other organisations, authorities and in the migrant community. •
- Responsive activities include the Child Protection Response System which intervenes in cases where children are at risk. Birth registration is also a direct response in combating the problem of Statelessness.