Akha Chronicles
Book 1: Maesai
Chapter 26: Army

 

Include about April Beer

Army

The Thai army with help and pressure from the US was the police state imposed on the Akha Hill Tribe and other tribes.

The Army exploited the hilltribes where they were stationed and were mostly above the rule of law.

 

Border Lies:

The Truth Behind the Akha Migration Story

In many cases it is becoming increasingly clear with research that the Akha who live in Thailand actually lived along border areas for onwards of a hundred years, with only some villages moving further into what is Thailand.

The Thai manner of dealing with this is what produced a disaster among the Akha.  Moving villages from high mountain locations, which in fact might have resembled a border dispute, was similar to seizing the citizens of another country.  Little concern was given to what happens to people who have lived for generations as mountian people, into low sweating valleys with  no view, places where people such as the Thai live.  Done often under the guise of border security or drug control it was in fact the effort to clear people of the desired border region with Burma with little to no thought of the consequences for those people. The Akha were not the only people effected, but also Lisaw and Lahu.  The Lahu it would appear the most severely effected.  Where the Akha resisted moves down to the very bottoms, the Lahu were in fact moved into the creek beds and suffered endlessly from fever and the effects of the warmer temperature on their ability to grow traditional livestock foods.  As well, they were greatly effected by the close proximity of the road.  The Lahu appear to have been under the effect of missionaries longer than the Akha and their culture is almost completely destroyed as a result.  Opium abuse appears to be higher among the Lahu in these situations and their villages certainly in worse condition.

The consequences for villages which were moved as compared to those which were not moved is startling.  For instance, Cheh Pah Kah, called Pai A Prai, in Thai, was a large Akha village that was not too far from the border but was lived close to Chinese and Lahu.  It was not moved and has prospered greatly over the last ten years.  It has now a wealth of fruit trees, tea plantations and various other fruits. 

Next door, Pah Nmm Akha, which was located at a higher elevation than Cheh Pah Kah also had a splendid village scene, water, fruit, forests for pigs and cattle, close proximity to the border with view of an immense distance of the horizon.  Some rice terraces were established but being on the top of the mountain the entire area had, at worst, a gentle roll to it where vegetables, rice and fruit could easily be grown. 

For reasons not yet known, accept a general policy of the Thai government and Army,  some eight years ago the village of Pah Nmm Akha, was moved off its ancestral lands, having been there more than a hundred years.  Some say that the Ampour’s office disapproved of the move and the army did it secretly.  At any rate the army did move the village far down the mountain.  They attempted to move the entire village into a sqalid flat area next to the creek where now stands a new clinic, but the Akha fought that and stayed one hill up.  The Lahu however were moved to that location and almost complete opium addiction now represents what has occured to them.

However, to the hill which the Akhas moved, there was no room to farm, no room for pigs and another Lahu village was near by, and Lisaw as well, leading to many conflicts about animals and ground, as well as the problems brought on by over crowding.  A second Akha village from another place nearby along the same ridge was moved just below them on the back side of the hill, further increasing the crowding of this area. This village is called Soh Yah Akha and was moved into an opening in the hills just below Pah Nmm Akha and just below the creek.  There is no view, not of anything, just the jungle, and looking up at Pah Nmm Akha.  Interestingly enough this village has a very high crime rate, if the soul can be seen from the eyes, this is little wonder, since there is nothing to see around them. Similar to living in the back end of an alley between large buildings towering over with only a small lane in and out.

To continue to live and eat the Akha of Pah Nmm Akha had to continue hiking back into the mountains and farming the lower slopes of their ancestral lands but the area was still a good hour and a half hike up hill one way to reach their fields.  Add to that an hour and a half hiking back down in the evening carrying food stuffs made the situation quite the ordeal.

This immense distance to farm and food radically effected both the moral and health of the village.

The village displays a high rate of miscarriage and with little wonder.  Pregnant woman walking three hours a day, packing food, seeds, tools, water, in order to farm, then farming for hours upon their arrival on steep slopes in all kinds of weather.  Some men have horses which they can assist in the carrying of heavy seed or other food crops, but there are not enough horses to go around.  The men of the village are often thin and caught with fever or lower back pain from the long hiking added to the already heavy field work.

The Army was little concerned with this. 

As well, being as there was little room for animals, many buffalo had to be kept far from the village, often being stolen or dying, lacking sufficient care.  Cattle were non existent, and pigs and chickens few.  Both dogs and chickens suffered from the heat and often died of fever.  The actual local land of the village was now just the road down the middle of the ridge seperating the huts.

(This only reinforces the importance of having saved Huuh Mah Akha from relocation.)

Now Forestry, another factor, little concerned with the plight of the Akha, is busy taking the lower lands that the Akha have been left with to farm.  Pah Nmm Akha is radically effected, Forestry taking much of their lower lands each year for the planting of bastard pine in some kind of odd planting scheme of a foreign specie, which grows fast, but is poorly cared for and produces a poor quality of wood.  It also kills all plants underneath it doing great environmental damage to the area.  Each time the Akha leave certain fields fallow for up to four or five years, Forestry takes these fields.  Then the Akha are left to farming the existing ground more intensely with higher rates of erosion, and the general dehibilitation of the soil and lower yields of crops.

Close placement to the road did not bring the prosperity it promised and lowered food security.  While organizations like the Asian Development Bank say they are addressing issues of food security it is actually being lowered by repetitive greedy actions on the part of a few.

Adjacent location of new schools also did not do so much to assist the Akha.  Children growing up in the village, going to the fields, learning closely connected to their environments were now increasingly in school, learning books, but loosing knowledge and general respect for what they already knew.  The assumption was made to them that if you are being pulled out of the village life for the learning of books then the learning of books must be better. But it was not books that fed them or their forfathers over the years, it was wise farming.  With the rushed development styles for the land there is little indication that books are more part of saving the environment for future generations than they are the means to dissipate the villages and turn the children into avid consumers of manufactured goods and lifestyles.

Government offices claim to offer job opportunities in the cities to further pull the Akha youth out of the mountain and weaken the villages in their ongoing efforts at assimilating the Akha.

Although clinics have been placed in the remote areas the service is poor, and pregnant Akha women are repeatedly told that if they do not agree to vaccination they will not receive ID cards for their children, being thus vaccinated with the Tetanus Toxoid during pregnancy at least two times.  The issue of being a different race than Thai still appears to be a matter of concern in their treatment.  Unless Thai medical staff just treat all poor people poorly?

One could say that it is a common occurrence in Thailand that while one hand plays havoc, the other tries to explain why the havoc has occurred without undoing it, but further administering another greed based solution to the problem.  Not that the truth is not available, but few are willing to ask why it is not examined, while the poor are plundered via lies.

 

Thai Army and Akha

Through newspaper reports I have seen ample stories that lead me to believe that the Thai army is compressing the hill tribe byu use of “forest preservation” law enforcement.

Cobra Gold 2001

The Nation - September 30, 2000

US army to help in fight against drugs

THAILAND and the United States are working on an agreement that will pave

the way for the two countries to cooperate on the suppression of drug

trafficking along the Thai-Burmese border, a senior US commander said

yesterday.

Admiral Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of the US Pacific Command, told

reporters yesterday that both countries are working out details of this

far-reaching cooperation, which will include training, the provision of

equipment and the sharing of intelligence.

It will be the first time that the Kingdom and the US army will work

together to combat the drug scourge, which both countries view as a security

threat.

Thailand is also hosting an international drug conference in mid-October to

boost international cooperation on narcotics suppression.

In a meeting with senior Thai leaders, Blair discussed US assistance for

Thailand in the form of training and equipment as well as providing

intelligence.

He said the cooperation would involve the army, police and intelligence

agencies in an endeavour to intercept the flow of drugs including

methamphetamine tablets into Thailand.

Blair also met with outgoing Supreme Commander Gen Mongkol Amphornpisit and

welcomed newly appointed Supreme Commander Sampao Chusri.

He said he was optimistic that the recent US proposal on multilateral

security cooperation among nations in the region would receive support. He

had already sounded out regional countries on the idea and received a

positive response.

Blair expressed the hope that China would send a bigger contingent of

officials to observe or participate in next year's Cobra Gold exercises.

The commander stressed that the US plan is not an exclusive concept but

aimed at mobilising regional efforts to face future challenges that would

come with peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance.

US Defence Secretary William Cohen had said recently in Bangkok that

Washington wanted to see the creation of multilateral military cooperation

in the area, together with its bilateral cooperation with regional allies.

 

Black shirts

Walking down the road into the dark with green pack bags.  Guns in arms, off to some bamboo hut with a few benches along the maesai river.  Border guards after the Khun Sah attack.

Brian Barney knew of many rapes of Akha girls by Black shirts.

 

The Village Relocations

The US embassy knew a lot about the border village relocations, more than they were talking. It didn't become apparent until the Wa were being moved in great numbers along the border and then it was said that the Embassy asked them to stop.  But the same article mentioned that the US had not disapproved of village removals from the border areas when the Thai Army was doing it to the Akha.

It is all the little collusions that made Auschwitz

 

The Army Backs Up Forestry

The planting of the pine could only be occurring with plans between forestry, army and PTT.

Now we saw PDA thrown in as well.

The force, the force of supression was certainly army.

 

Building the border road. (road back to Eden)

The Akha needed this road back to the upper fields from their lower fields so that they could gain use of the land again, I helped them build a road, but the army tried to shut us down.  We didn't have far to go, so we would finish it later but it became clear that the army would stomp on them for anything and this was one of the reasons that the villagers were afraid.

They were prisoners.

I know, they called me and the head man out of the village and were very angry about the road. Course we hadn't finished it when the border war came so they had to pack all their shit and couldn't drive up the hill cause it wasn't done.

 

Lazy Army Mae Ai

No power poles, let the foreigner pay.

No fix the road.

Ah Surh's village

 

Army Killings and Torture, Haen Taek Region Villages

Ah Peeh, burned, dipped in water

Ah Yah, older brother

Ah Baw Nyoh, shot

Soi Yah Kah

Ah Dteeh, beaten, electrocuted, broken ribs, Dumrong at Sam Yaek 241 Cavalry Squadron

Cheh Myaw village

Ah Juuh beaten and killed.

Head man runs, army steals truck, house money

Older man is beaten for asking questions at the army camp, where is headman gone to.

Army intrusions into our village at night

 

Army Patrols of Akha villages Near Kok River, Mae Ai - Taton

My bridge village, arrest of Wa tribes man.

The apparent unwillingness of the army to work with the villagers in any fashion

 

Army

Killings and Torture of the Akha

Ah Dteeh beaten, electrocuted, broken ribs, escapes

Ah Peeh Burned

Ah Nyoh shot

Ah Yah (older brother) beaten

Ah Juuh beaten to death at Meh Maw Akha

Loh Guuh Killed, Entrapment

Ah Pah Beaten to death

Ah Juuh Cheh Muuh at Meh Maw Akha Dies from beating

With three or four other men

Huuh Yoh Awa Head Man

Was Huuh Mah Headman and trouble maker

And his son

 

The Number of Army Camps in the Region Of Haen Taek

Hoh Gkah Akha

Bpah Mah Hahn

Hua Mae Kom

Meh Maw

Nueng Gow Lang

Haen Taek

Sam Yaek

 

Rapes of Akha Women By Black Shirts

Happened to women of Soi Yah Akha before and more recent, recent case by Burmese

 

Stories of An Opium Smoker's Wife

A man who does nearly nothing, was an Opium Agent, Buffalo Man

How is it that some people appear to give up on life.

Ah Chooh's mother

Taking Shit

 

Stories of Courage and the Lack there of

How unwilling the akha were to fight for what was theirs, like hey dude, get off your ass!

 

The role of Army Oppression

 

The role of the Lahu?

 

Army Two

One night the army guys, two of them came into Pah Nmm Akha asking for me and the headman.   The elders said that he would not come out till I did and so I did.  But then we caught them and I went to th e army base and asked what was going on, why they were coming here at 2 am looking for us.  This is how people got killed.

 

Army Soi Yah Kah

The army shot Mr. Ah Nyoh there and caught Ah Peeh and Ah Zah.  They burned Ah Peeh's back of the neck with fire, forced his head under water, trying to find out who sold drugs, then took them to the jail.  Mr. Ah Nyoh was shot along the back of the head.

This started my fight to stop the brutality to the Akha villages.

 

Army And Police Caught

The Bangkok Post articles caught the army for their killing of an Akha, for the police brutality as well.  The police had yet to presecute the police killings of Loh Guuh and Ah Bpah.

The Akha at Bpah Mah Hahn told me about Mr. Ah Juuh Cheh Muuh being killed and I investigated that but I already knew about the police killings of Loh Guuh and Ah Bpah.

Loh Guuh got  himself in a drug deal that the police set up.   As a lookout he got shot in the back of the head from about a meter and a half away.  The Thai guy said, "Now I kill you". His sister warned him that a man was coming but he said that was not to worry, and didn't look and got shot.  His sister sat ten meters away at her house.

The police  had sent an old Thai man to ask to buy meth pills, 15,000 of them, and then Loh Pah put the deal together, not thinking, these are drug dealers, they put the deal together to sell 15,000 meth pills right at the village, you gotta be joking to think these are drug dealers, they were just foolish Akha.

Loh Guuh's first wife's name was Booh Nmm.  His second wife was pregnant at the time.  She left for Burma to go live with her mother when Loh Guuh died.

Loh Guuh was Booti's older brother.

Ah Peeh Byuuh was his mom, a real nice Akha woman, one of the best I knew.

Now she was so much alone.  Her husband was a kind man, short white hair, bad legs, and nearly blind. 

I remember when Ah Peeh Byuuh gave a back massage by heating up a hoe head, dipping her heal in water, pressing it on the hoe head and then on the back of the man laying on the floor near the fire.  She did it very fast though so it was like a kind of dance.

When Loh Guuh got his second wife he bought an old motorbike with no light which he had to fix and then they drove around together, he showed her how to drive it.  She came to my hut many times, was a nice talking girl, worked hard, and didn't fight much.

Loh Guuh was always happy, joking, worked hard too.  They didn't have much, an old fridge in his mom's hut, a gas burner stove, one of the cheap tin ones cost about $30.

Now the grandfather helped take care of the little kids.  Loh Guuh's fourth child was a girl I think, since they went to Burma I didn't see them.  She was born there.

Ah Bpah was dragged from his home and beten, h is skull cracked in back and he died of a brain hemorhage.  I found his body on the road where the policeman dumped him out of the truck, claiming that Ah Bpah jumped, but there were no injuries or skuffs to Ah Bpah from landing, and he looked very peaceful like he was placed there.  He was still very warm and the blood coming from his ear in a small amount very fresh, maybe five minutes only.

In the killing of Mr. Ah Juuh and the beating of four men with him, one man escaped, so they beat Ah Juuh and Ah Tay more, blaming them.  Ah Juuh died.  Then the army stole the headman's friends pickup truck, the village kitty of 17,000 baht from his house.  This was money the village was collecting.

 

Electrocution of Ah Dteh of Loh Mah Cheh and stealing of Headman's goods

 

 

End

Have a comment or question? Like to know more? Send me an email at akha@akha.org
Copyright 2004, by Matthew McDaniel