Check out these two excellent documentaries about the indigenous Mani people of southern Thailand and northern Malaysia. For more detailed information about the precarious situation of Mani people in Thailand, download this eBook — The Mani People of Thailand on the agricultural frontier.
Here is the introduction to the eBook, The Mani People of Thailand on the agricultural frontier, with some background information about the Mani people.
The problematic situation of the indigenous peoples, so-called ‘hill tribes’, of northern and western Thailand is well known. For most of the second half of the 20th century, government policies deprived them of land rights and citizenship and sought to resettle them in the lowlands, as the Government
viewed them as forest-destroyers, potential allies of communist insurgents and narco-traffickers. That situation is beginning to change, in part due to more enlightened views being adopted by Government officials, in part because the cultural diversity of the ‘hill tribes’ has become a magnet for eco-tourism, but mainly perhaps because of sustained advocacy by the peoples themselves, and their NGO supporters, who have developed strong social movements and alliances with the poor to press for their rights.
By comparison, the even more precarious situation of the remnant indigenous peoples of eastern and southern Thailand is almost unknown. One such group is the Mani, ‘Negrito’ hunter-gatherers who live in the forested Banthad Mountains along the watershed between Satun, Patthalung and Trang Provinces in southern Thailand. Since the 1960s this area has experienced a dramatic expansion of tree crops, mainly rubber and more recently oil palm that has led to rapid forest clearance, road-building and forest colonization.
The oil palm sector in Thailand is unusual in that about 70% of the planted area has been established as small-holdings. Most of this expansion has occurred in the central and southern parts of the country with a vigorous focus around Krabi and now extends southwards down the Peninsula. Until now, industry interests and academic analysts have suggested that oil palm expansion in Thailand is not affecting indigenous peoples. But the question is: have those who make such assertions looked in the right places?
Photos by Tpat Maneerat
Photos by Tpat Maneerat