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    To develop the ethnic groups database where systematized research data are available online and can be made use of by interested parties or individuals, following the subjects or topics of their interests, and thus making it easier for them to sum up the essential points necessary for further in-depth studies. 
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  Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
Ethnic Groups Research Database
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   Record

 
Subject National security policies, Hmong, minority ethnic group
Author Col. Sithidet Wongprachaya
Title Highland ethnic group and national security: A case study of the Hmong ethnic group
Document Type Thesis Original Language of Text Thai
Ethnic Identity Hmong, Language and Linguistic Affiliations Hmong-Mien
Location of
Documents
- Total Pages 205 Year 2007
Source Faculty of Graduate Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University
Abstract

This dissertation presents the internal and external factors influencing the behavior of the Hmong that might affect national security, and suggests strategies to solve problems related to the ethnic group.
   
The documentary research and participatory action method as well as the author’s personal experience of living with the ethnic group focuses on three aspects of behavior of the Hmong, namely cultural conflicts of the Hmong with other cultures, the prevalence of narcotic drugs, and the transnational migration of the ethnic group from Laos. This fundamental information might be beneficial to those working with the ethnic group to learn and understand the lifestyle of the Hmong when they have to assimilate with the mainstream culture.
    
The Hmong can be divided into three groups according to their age:
1. The first group is composed of those 60 years and over. They lead a simple and nomadic life, moving from place to place in search of fertile land for cultivation. They are regarded as forest encroachers. Their mentality is that they own no land but borrow the land from others for livestock raising, leading a nomadic life.

2. The second group is composed of those aged between 35 and 60 years old. Their mentality is that they have to have a permanent settlement and be loyal to their motherland. They regard Thailand as the land of the Hmong because Hmongs are Thais. This generation used to participate in political activities involving the communists. They were re-educated and returned to the society and to assimilate with the mainstream. They have played a significant role in demanding rights and benefits for the ethnic group, and in maintaining their traditional values (p. 72)

3.  The third group is composed of those younger than 35 years of age. They live in permanent settlements and lead a modern lifestyle due to the influence of modernism. They have assimilated with the Thai culture, are educated to different levels, dress like mainstream Thais and do not like to speak their ethnic language. This behavior has brought about conflict with the other generations concerning conventional lifestyles and culture. The conflict stems from the third generation leading a modern lifestyle. Nevertheless, they are well aware of their ethnicity because older generations have instilled in them stories about past conflicts and the issues of social inequality and educational opportunities, since most of them were poor (pp. 72-73).
    
The ethnic group is knowledgeable about and interested in the forest areas where they reside. They love and cherish their motherland and keep close relationship with their kin. This ethnic connection draws whole families to participate in cultural events (pp. 78-79).
    
Regarding economy and migration, their philosophy is that banyan trees in Thailand give better yields than those in Laos, and those in America are better than those in Thailand. This mentality has driven some ethnic migrants from Laos to settle in America (p. 72).
    
There are currently eleven clans in the ethnic group, namely Lee, Hor, Wang, Low, Song, Thao, Han, Ma, Mua, Wu, Thor, and Chang (p. 73).
    
In terms of administration, Chinese Hmong have their own autonomous region and receive the same privileges as the Chinese and other ethnic groups. They do not harbor any secessionist concepts (pp. 65-66).
   
The Hmong did not have any political ideologies. When they were suppressed by state officials, they escaped into jungles and joined the Communist Party of China in Kunming. There, they were re-educated about political ideologies. Those escaping into the jungles were divided into two groups: political ideologists and their supporters (p. 80).
    
Nowadays, the ethnic group is more educated and knows more about democratic ideology. Some of them are involved in local politics as Thai citizens with voting rights (p. 82). In the past, those joining the Communist Party of Thailand had confidence in ex-communist students and their political parties. They would cast their votes for them without any conditions.
    
There are two types of leaders in the ethnic group: the clan leaders and official leaders (p. 73). The Hmong do not want to be called “Maew”, because it is a derogatory term. Maew is derived from Maewsu or Miewsu, meaning “the hopeless, the slaves” (p. 63).
    
Regarding the relationship with other ethnic groups, the main factor was the influence of the Communist Party of Thailand, in which some were involved, leading to conflict between the ethnic group and state officials. On the issue of land contestation between the Hmong and the Yunnanese, state officials took sides with the latter because they were more economically well off. Due to a lack of good publicity, the Hmong felt frustrated, unfairly treated and materially deprived. The situation provided an opportunity for the Communist Party of Thailand to intervene, bringing about serious conflicts and political unrest in the northern region (pp. 76, 78). Those involved with the Communist Party of Thailand were ideologically related to ex-student fighters and the October people who were politically successful. Organizing the Comrade Reunion Party in the three provinces created camaraderie among the Hmong (p. 84). Moreover, the Hmong established a connection with the Wa, an ethnic minority in Burma. Due to the relationship with the Lao Movement of the Prince Democratic Party and the Wa, to which the Yunnanese allied with the Thai government in the Khao Khor Area, the Hmong were friendly with the Wa. The movement leaders needed approval from leaders of the Buddhist Karen to relocate the Hmong to the Thai-Burmese border in Umphang, Phrophra, Mae Sot and Mae Ramat Districts of Tak Province, the area under the control of the Karen. This was because the Thai government had a clear policy to repatriate the Hmong from Wat Tham Krabok Refugee Camp in Phuthabat District, Saraburi Province. The Hmong in Phophra District had a close connection with the Buddhist Karen, who allowed them to use the area for farming and engage in the narcotics trade (pp. 83, 85-87).
    
The Hmong and Yao are closely related due to their similarities in culture, customs, lifestyles, beliefs, and languages. However, the Yao are more skillful in trade than the Hmong, a major reason why Hmong men like to marry Yao women. Additionally, Hmong men like to marry Thai women in an attempt to raise their social status (p. 84).
    
Traditional and official Hmong leaders actively participate in activities organized by the state and by private sectors. They have established several organizations and coordinated with national and international networks, e.g., UNDP, Forest Fire Prevention Project.
    
There are internal and external factors affecting the security-related behavior of the ethnic group. The internal factors are as follows:
1. The implementation and evaluation of relevant state policies are problematic, owing to political instability, the confusion of state officials in implementing the policies, a lack of understanding, and bias against the ethnic group (p. 129).

2. Ethnic differences and difficulties in assimilation and acceptance (p. 130)

3. Human rights violations, the problem that cannot be concretely solved by any human rights organizations (p. 143)

4. The roles of social, ethnic, religious, and non-governmental organizations, bringing about social movements and support for positive development and problem solving (p. 144)

The external factors are as follows:
1. The roles of the superpowers and foreign intervention

2.  Globalization

3.  National policies toward neighboring countries

The impact of both internal and external factors on national security and national policies included conflict in co-habitation between the Hmong and the mainstream society, a prevalence of narcotics, and transnational migration.

Text Analyst Sunisa Fuekfon Date of Report Jun 29, 2017
TAG National security policies, Hmong, minority ethnic group, Translator Chalermchai Chaichomphu
 
 

 

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