There were 12,000 sea gypsies in more than 30 groups across Thailand’s Andaman Coast waters.
Despite some publicity about their way of life in the wake of the 2004 tsunami disaster, they still live as second-class citizens and don’t have the full rights enjoyed by other Thai citizens.
Land rights issues were the biggest concern. Most sea gypsy communities are located in coastal areas and many do not have land title deeds. Some sea gypsy cemeteries are now located inside marine national parks or other areas designated for tourism purposes.
Sea gypsy Yupa Chaonam of the Phi Phi Island community said, “We are not allowed to do anything [in the surrounding area], which we are told belongs to a developer. We just want to know what is our territory and what is not. It’s as if we are a forgotten people with no public development for us.”
This video documentary is an extraordinary reverse-reading about “tourist paradise” of Phuket. I turned my camera to the invasion of the islands and their broken-wing guards, Sea gypsies.