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By Katie Clark, Legal Status Network Foundation (LSNF) January 13, 2015

The Legal Status Network Foundation (LSNF) is a network aimed at promoting the human rights of stateless people and influencing policy and development through their network of organizations. The network consists of thirty two non-governmental organizations and institutes that focus on child rights, human rights, stateless people, and issues specific to ethnic groups in five provinces in northern Thailand. Strength and effectiveness comes from the amount of members in LSNF that allows for large-scale change to happen while individual organizations can continue to help in communities.

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For National Children’s Day, 2,200 stateless students from all over Thailand participated in a postcard-writing campaign to the Prime Minister and Thai government. These stateless students are composed of different ethnic minorities in Thailand, including the Morgan people in the south of Thailand. In the postcards, students wrote to the Prime Minister asking for the gift of Thai nationality for National Children’s Day. LSNF and NGOs focused on child rights and stateless people issues collectively organized and helped students write about themselves and the gift of Thai nationality. On National Children’s Day, January 10, students all mailed their postcards collectively to the Prime Minister. Video clips from all of Thailand demonstrate the urgency of the cause as students stood at post offices and mailed their request for nationality.

 Although there has been recent progress in Thai legislation that allows full access to education for all children and young adults, barriers remain for stateless students. Children without Thai nationality still face prejudice and the law has not been widely accepted and implemented. Moreover, stateless students continue to be a marginalized group with unprotected human rights. In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, LSNF aims for all of Thailand’s children to have at least one nationality. LSNF also has the vision of Thailand to protect the legal status and human rights of all stateless people through domestic and international law.

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From January 7 to January 9, the Department of Local Administration hosted the first ever formal seminar that was open to NGOs and stateless people. This seminar was about past, current, and future policies regarding the stateless people situation in Thailand. Several students that had participated in the postcard campaign for National Children’s Day attended as representatives of stateless students and presented their postcards to government officials. Media representatives from television stations, websites, and newspapers were present to interview participants and publicize the issue  of statelessness in Thailand.

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