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The Effects of the Drug War on the Akha People

How It Effects The Akha People
Of Thailand and Burma


Another Dead Man
The drug war continues to take a horrible toll among the Akha. Is it worth it to the Akha and other hilltribes to continue to traffic drugs? Apparently conditions are such that for the potential profits involved it is.  This says more about their living realities than anything else. We must strive for a more just society for the hilltribe where opportunities are not blocked, where the land is not taken away, where oppression is not state sanctioned.  The Akha communities themselves must reject drugs for the horrible results that repeat themselves over and over, and seek improved leadership and governance. Those who enforce the drug war must also be held accountable for the brutality they approve, the hypochrisy of their daily actions, and for all those of power and influence who will never be tortured to talk, electrocuted for fun, or shot and buried without a name.

As of July 25, 2002 one Akha man Loh Murh, near Huai Krai made a delivery of pills to policemen near the village where the big Chinese mission is.  He was shot and killed and the two women with him were arrested. This is 1 kilometer from where Loh Guuh was shot and killed exactly a year ago in a similar request for pills and sting operation.

Does anyone have a problem with this equation?

The Wa want to sell, the Akha are poor enough to agree, and the Akha end up dead, over and over again, but no one has yet decided to make a war against the Wa, so what gives? Haven't the Thais figure out where the meth is coming from yet.  Doese Chavalit have just one too many damn investments in Burma to keep him from giving Surayud the thumbs up for a major assault in the name of national security? Or is this just one way to eliminate the hilltribe? We think so.

Who are the untouchables who move heroin to the US?

The Hypochrisy

The Golden Triangle has long been a location of drug export.
However the groups that grow the opium do it for reasons of poverty and history.
In the past opium production was imposed on these people and in Eastern Shan State opium is still grown for heroin production and export to the west.
There are NO sound poverty alleviation programs in this region that empower the Akha to develop improved sources of income such as tea, coffee, fruit trees.  Such projects are owned by other people, the Akha only the labor (once again like opium) and the profits do not go readily into the Akha community.
The lack of poverty reduction funding is very clear in the Akha communities, yet these same communities are blamed for their involvement in drugs.  The west has a fortune to spend on a drug war, nothing for poverty reduction.
Follow the money.
While there are not many alternatives for cash income which take little investment, the penalty for getting caught is significant.  Enforcement would seem to be aimed at further reducing the Akha community in the mountains.
A new prison was built in Chiangrai.
Arrested Akha seldom can afford a lawyer.
They get no other representation.
Families where the father is arrested plumet into poverty.  Social agencies pick up nothing.  Sentences of ten and twenty years are regularly handed out.

Drug War Math:

Ahka Family Caught With 50 speed pills.
Potential profit: $25
Police search house, find pills, arrest family of four.
For release from jail, police demand $800.
Just WHO is making the money off the drug war?
You can sell a war like this to anyone.
Plenty of fools will back it up, and the fools are not only Akhas.

Breakdown:

The International Drug War

The Drug War In Thailand
     The Wa
     The Villages
     The Burmese
     Laundering Money.  Where does all the Wa Baht Go?
     Poverty: Social and Economic Pressure Applied On Akha Villages, Land Rights
     Poverty Alleviation
     Motivations For Needing An Ongoing Drug War In Thailand

How The Drug War Effects The Lives Of The Akha Hilltribe
     Some History: Drugs And Having Your Village Burned
     Poverty
     Exploitation
     Lack of Land Rights
     The Role of The Thai Forestry Department In  Making The Problem Far Worse
     Night Time Search And Seizure In Akha Villages
     Arrests And Imprisonment: Lack Of Representation
     Murder In The Villages = Fear
     Forced Village Relocations
     Missions, The CIA, And The Destroying Of The Culture And Identity Of The Akha
          Big Churches, lots of money for that. No money for water, vitamins, land rights.


Copyright 1991 The Akha Heritage Foundation