The Akha Heritage Foundation - www.akha.org
Akha Human Rights - Akha University
You may copy and save this document for later reading.
Please remember to do a site search for other related documents which may not be shown here.
The Akha Face Chinese Missionary Takeover
In nothern Thailand the missionaries have tried to convert the hilltribes for fourty years. The Lahu and the Lisaw do not have their traditional culture left as a result.
The Akha however have a strong orthodox culture that resembles an environmental theology. They have resisted conversion for many years. But in the last two years the Chinese Baptist Missionaries from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US have targeted the Akha hilltribe extensively for conversion.
The conversion is not normal, it is high pressured and money plays a significant factor in how it is carried out. Since villages do not generally just convert on their own, the mission must pressure them or take advantage of some division within the community no matter how small. If none exists they will more than gladly create one, usually with promises of money, or other incentives.
Immediately after establishing a foothold in the village, against the will of the elders, they will then set about to build a church of concrete. With cookies they will try to pull as many of the children into the church as possible and will immediately start teaching them that their parents are "wrong". The pastor is promised rewards for each additional house he "converts".
The conversion process requires that the Akha believe their traditions are evil and abandon them. This reaches into every section of life and thought.
There is a cessation of traditional dress, singing, traditional ceremonies and festive dances. All of it is refered to as evil and worshiping evil spirits. Traditional items are burned.
The central Chinese mission immediately begins taking the children out of the village, focusing on the young teen girls. They are moved to a boarding school where the entire process begins of removing every trace of who they are. They will be made to learn and process in Chinese. They will not hear their own language spoken and will be impressed with the thought that it is inferior. The likelihood that they will return to the village is very small.
The young men in the village will grow up with no girls to marry. Yet where will these girls, still uneducated compared to the majority of Thai society along the lines of the western model, enter the job market? In most cases they will be poorly paid, or will still find themselves in unfortunate jobs, but with none of the supports of their traditional culture.
The Thai government makes no effort to defend the Akha people. The Chinese Missionaries say they want a church in every village. They say this because the Akha are poor. Rather than help fight for human rights, they take advantage of the tragedy.
The Chinese missioanries are racist against the Akha people, insisting on conversions that they would not dare insist on in Thai communities.
With increased Chinese missionary presence the Akha may also loose their land to Chinese land owners.
Copyright 1991 - 2006 The Akha Heritage Foundation