Rights group wants Thailand, Myanmar to help 'sea gypsies'

AP News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 8:02 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Human rights advocates are calling on Thailand and Myanmar to end discrimination and other abuses against a nomadic seafaring tribe whose livelihood in their waters has been upended by development.

Human Rights Watch says in a report Thursday that the Moken, often dubbed "sea gypsies," face extortion and other abuses by authorities, while also under restrictions due to new conservation and immigration laws. The group says the Moken are particularly vulnerable because most are stateless as a result of their nomadic lifestyle.

The Moken grabbed the world's attention when they were able to save themselves from the ravages of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami because their intimate knowledge of the sea allowed them to recognize warning signs of the disaster and flee to high ground.