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Akha Human Rights - Akha University

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The Human rights Situation of the Akha People

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The Destruction of a Culture and a People can be prevented.

In Brief:

The annihilation of the Akha culture is very quickly taking place through the relentless barrage of attacks they receive from all sides, all going largely unnoticed to the rest of the world.

This part of the site is dedicated to dipicting their dire situtation, and the all-too-simple truths that, gone unremedied, will result in continued suffering and edventually, complete extinction.

If money is not the root of all evil, than ignorance is. Indigenous people throughout space and time have been regarded as worthless, a problem that needs solving. Two groups of people, the Thai government and christian missionaries, are guilty of this same crime here and now, and the world is doing very little to stop them from carrying on as they have been.

The largest foe that the Akha really faces is the ignorance of the uninformed, of the people who do not consider hilltribes peoples as equals with rights.

The Akha are without a voice and thus, without defense.

One of the most violent and repulsive human rights violations that the Akha suffer continues almost daily at the hands of Thai soldiers and police officers. A complete lack of professionalism, regard for judicial proceedures, or respect for human life has led to countless beatings, imprisonment, torture and murder.

In the past Akha have been made to produce and transport opium by local officials. They are now subject to intense discrimination in the opposite direction, and are abused almost at will.

This kind of brutality, and the weak excuses made to justify itby the Thai government, is a completely unacceptable way to treat other human beings, in addition to being illegal according to international law.

The Forestry department interferes with or prevents farming and missionaries work hard to convert or split villages and remove children to low land boarding schools, far from culture and valuable mountain land.

For specific cases look under the following headings in Contents Section:

Army Reports
Forestry Reports
Medical Rights
Police Reports

Advocacy for the Akha Our advocacy work with the Akha is in order to protect their heritage and culture. We address the many violations of their rights, the witholding of services, and the lack of due process under the law. Our work includes the monitoring of mission activity which prohibits traditional culture in the villages, deprives the villages of traditional leadership or may split the village. Missions are actively engaged in the removal of Akha children from their traditional environments to boarding schools in town.

We work to insure that the Akha get accorded sufficient medical treatment at regional medical facilities. All too often we have documented cases when it was obvious that the individual was in critical condition all though they had been repeatedly to the doctor, only to obtain pills. In numerous cases it could only appear that the person had been sent home to die. In many cases the individuals were children. In many cases a disregard for the bad or worsening condition of the patient was shown. Lack of intervention was noticeable. Some women are sterilized against their wishes or given injections against their will during pregnancy.

Village Situations
We keep abreast of strategic problems that the villages face regarding law enforcement, land rights, the forestry department, immigration and decision by local offices. Food supplies in villages can be at critically low levels prior to the harvest. Increasingly the most basic quantity of land for barely sustainable rice planting is taken away by mono crop alien specie pine plantings by the Thai Forestry department. Water supplies can be bad or insufficient, making the entire village sick. Villagers repeatedly tell us how their rights to freely practice their own culture have been blocked by missionaries working in their village, who got the consent of the headman or a few of the villagers to impose new ways on the village without the decision being unanymous. This usually brings a disregard for the elders and an end of all festivals and dancing in the village. Traditional naming, funerals and weddings are ended in the village. Sometimes there are attempts to relocate villages against their will.

From The Amnesty Report
Tribal people

"In the last year there have been increased reports of ill-treatment and killings by the authorities of tribal people, who live mostly in northern Thailand. So-called hill tribe people, numbering slightly less than one million, live in the mountains of Thailand and include the Akha, Lahu, Lisu, and Karen groups. Many of them do not have Thai citizenship and face discrimination with regard to education, health care, and other basic rights. At the same time they are exploited as a tourist attraction while often being accused by the authorities and others of destroying the environment(3) and using opium and other illegal drugs. On 7 December 2001, two Akha tribesmen, Ateh Amoh, aged 34, and Ajuuh Cheh Cuuh Gooh, aged 42, were forcibly taken by soldiers from their village of Ban Mae Moh, Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai Province, to the 11th Cavalry military camp in order to be treated in a opium detoxification program. According to Ateh Amoh, they were pushed into a small hole in the ground where three other Akha men were already detained. Soldiers then poured water, coal and ashes on the five men and left them there until the evening when they were blindfolded and taken separately for questioning. Mr. Ateh said: ''The soldiers never talked about the opium detoxification programme. They tried to force me to admit the drug charges by electric shocks to my ears, kicking my face and body, punching me hard in the body and hitting me with a gun handle on my head and chest several times...When they felt that I could no longer stand it because my body was soaked with blood, they took me back to the hole and left me there for a night and a day.''(4)

One man escaped, and as a punishment Ateh Amoh and Ajuuh Cheh Cuuh Gooh were severely beaten again. Ajuuh Che Cuuh Gooh died from the beatings on 9 December and Ateh Amoh spent six days in the hospital being treated for a ruptured lung and other injuries. Army Commander-in-Chief General Sarayud Chulanont acknowledged that some soldiers used ''violent means'', including detaining drug addicts in pits, in treating tribal people alleged to be drug users or traffickers in the Thai-Myanmar border area. He said that investigations would be conducted and those found guilty would be transferred and punished.(5) Other army officers claimed that Ajuuh Cheh Cuuh Gooh died from the effects of opium addiction. In provinces bordering Myanmar there are a higher number of army units deployed as well as immigration police and Border Patrol Police. Constant drug trafficking and occasional skirmishes between various armed opposition groups and the Myanmar army affect these border provinces, some of whom are quite rural, on a regular basis. In another case Apha Wurh Zur, a 56-year-old Ahka man from Ban Mae Sam Lep village, Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai Province, was reportedly beaten to death by police on 17 May 2001 after being accused of drugs trafficking. He was believed to have been killed by a blow to the back of his head. On 24 January 2002 Police Major General Wut Withitanont, Chiang Rai provincial police chief, promised to investigate the incident. He urged the families of the victims to file complaints and said that those found responsible would face criminal and disciplinary charges.(6) "

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