CHIANG MAI, THAILAND -- Today in the United States, we celebrate Citizenship Day. It’s a day to remember the creation of the Constitution and to celebrate the blessings of liberty that all citizens are meant to enjoy.
A group of Thai citizens recently celebrated a similar day to reflect on their new freedoms—though they have lived in Thailand for generations, many have just recently been recognized as citizens. The event was not an official national holiday, but hundreds showed up to celebrate.
When Mayo Mayer, a 52-year-old woman from Baanmaisamakkhi village, was asked what the first thing she wanted to do with her citizenship was, she replied passionately, “Elections. I want to vote.” She added that her citizenship also means her family will be safe for generations to come.
At the next celebration in Muang Na township, the District Sheriff attended and children performed a traditional dance on stage. Bright and beautiful traditional hill tribe dresses filled the hall. Many received their official Thai citizenship ID cards at this event—the final piece of documentation that will prove their citizenship.
“Receiving citizenship is like being reborn,” explains IJM Legal Status Documentation Program Manager, La-aw Kukaewkasem. She adds, “We want to celebrate and commemorate this joyous occasion together.”
One woman smiled broadly and remarked that this day was her second birthday.
Learn more about how IJM responds to citizenship rights abuse in Thailand.
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