Photographer's Note


Problem of Statelessness


When it occurs on a collective basis, statelessness is almost always an indicator of underlying social and political tensions, involving minority groups which are perceived by the majority community and the authorities as different, disloyal or dangerous. Contemporary examples of this syndrome include the Roma (gypsy) minority in the Czech Republic, Myanmar's Muslim minority, commonly known as Rohingyas, and the large population of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia. In the former Soviet states generally, there is a particular risk that the resurgence of ethnic nationalism and the introduction of new nationality laws might lead to large-scale statelessness and mass population movements.

Recent developments in the former Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe, coupled with the simultaneous emergence of a proactive, preventive and solution-oriented approach to the problem of human displacement, have generated a new awareness of the plight of stateless people. It is now widely accepted that the question of statelessness goes beyond the domestic jurisdiction of states, given its important human rights implications, its potentially damaging impact on inter-state relations and its propensity to create refugee problems.

In most situations, people become stateless not as a result of some historical or legal quirk, but because a state has not learned to live with or tolerate its minorities. Respecting the full spectrum of human rights — which includes the right to a nationality — is essential if a society is to live at peace with itself and in harmony with its neighbors.(Excerpts from “The State of the World's Refugees” — by UNHCR, edition 1995, pp-67)

On the surface of Tonle Sap Great Lake live 1,500 people under houseboats. They speak Vietnamese language, eat Vietnamese food, dress Vietnamese costume and use Vietnamese conical hat. Most of them never had chance to set foot on Fatherland. More than once, they have been massacred for being Vietnamese. In peace time, they are hated for their fishing skills. In war-time, they were subjected to be killed under political reasons. Living on water, but they always feel the heat.

Recently, I received some emails asking for more info and pictures about this community. These mails were from several individuals who are interested in raising fund to help build a floating classroom for Chong Kneas children. For that purpose, I am running this set of snapshots. Please forgive about their photographic value, and give me a hand to the humanitarian cause.

For your convenience, there are articles in Vietnamese in "Discussions" area below.

Thanks, and God Bless!



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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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