The Moken people are an Austronesian ethnic tribe, inhabiting the coast and islands of the Andaman Sea on the west coast of Thailand and certain provinces of Myanmar.
The peace loving nature, and low population of the Moken has seen them exploited for centuries, first by the British and now by the governments of Thailand and Myanmar. They have been attempting to integrate the Moken into their more modern society, giving up their traditionalism and aspects of their culture.
With more pollution, less fish in the ocean and no land for their people, as well as all the combined efforts of the government and the harassment and deaths faced by these sea nomads, the Moken population of the region has come down to a mere 1,000 from the slightly stronger 2,500 it was a decade ago. Today, facing many challenges and against what seems like insurmountable odds the Moken elders persevere in pleasing the ancient spirits in hopes of protecting and preserving their way of life.
The Moken once occupied some of Thailand’s best and most beautiful islands. Due to the tourist popularity of these islands growing and the need for space to develop beach side resorts, the Thai government spent countless years moving them from one island to the next. A new road is being built alongside one of their villages in Thailand, because the government aims to use them to bolster tourism.
It seems the relentless march of modernism will in all probability annihilate them as a people, and the world would have to say goodbye to the closest thing we have to merpeople.
Alexander aims to shed light on the past and present injustices faced by the Moken people. Through raising awareness and understanding, he hopes to have some part in preserving their culture and stopping their decline.
If you would like to help the Moken in anyway please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Alexander Savvas is a South African born photographer. His passion for people, their cultures and stories are ever present in his work. He is Based in Cape Town, South Africa and Berlin, Germany.