While the Akha delegation remains stranded in South East Asia, having been refused Visas by the Swiss Government to attend the WGIP in Geneva by invitation, Friends of People Close to Nature from Germany and the UK have put forth the Akha statement to the Working Group For Indigenous Populations in Geneva.
The Thai security forces reputation for brutality and human rights abuses will have been significantly enhanced following the death of 76 civilians who had been arrested and loaded into army trucks. Apparently 80% of the victims died from smothering or suffocation and 20% from stress or convulsions.
Matthew McDaniel has been hard at work since his deportation from Thailand and has now filed a complaint to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
I have just been made aware that Matthew McDaniel has been detained in Thailand and looks set to be deported.
The human rights observers I mentioned in my previous entry turned up OK in the end. Meanwhile a petition has been filed with the United Nations Human Rights Commission on behalf of the Akha. The petition gives details of 20 cases of torture, beatings and killings by the Thai Army.
Two human rights observers, a Canadian woman and an Australian woman, who were arrested by the Thai army are still missing and unaccounted for. Matthew McDaniel has sent an urgent appeal to the UN and is posting regular updates at www.akha.org where you can also learn about the circumstances which required the presence of human rights observers in the first place.
Yesterday I sent a small donation to the Akha Heritage Foundation and ordered a copy the second Akha Journal. In a spooky coincidence I just found out that Amnesty International yesterday issued a report denouncing the murder spree which has been going on under the guise of a so called "War on Drugs".
Paul Handley reported that in the three months after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared a "Drug War" Thai military and police-controlled hit squads shot to death nearly 2,300 people. I have been reading first hand reports coming out of an Akha Village about brutal murders and beatings carried out by the Thai army.
The Akha people in the northern mountain villages of Thailand were already under serious pressure resulting from the timber industry stealing their traditional farming lands and missionaries taking children from their homes to "orphanages" where they are exploited for financial gain. Now this process seems to be accelerating with more ethnic cleansing being carried out under the guise of phony anti-drug operations.
The excellent Akha Heritage Foundation website has lots of information about what is going on in the villages including some grizzly photographs of recent victims.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010