ELL: Akha Weekly Update Feb 3, 2000

Matthew McDaniel akha at LOXINFO.CO.TH
Thu Feb 3 09:48:59 UTC 2000

Weekly Update
Update of the situation at Huai Maak Akha Village
Maesai, Chiangrai, Thailand


Numerous people replied to multiple calls for assistance and arrived in
northern Thailand to be in and around Huai Maak Akha village for the
scheduled eviction.

A meeting was held with the Thai Army for the Therd Thai Region and it
was agreed on that the village would be requested to express their
wishes once again by a vote.

A number of people from outside the region came to Huai Maak to witness
that vote and make sure that the conditions in the village were without
pressure.  Upon the completion of the vote 35 Akha and Lisaw families
stated that they would choose to remain at Huai Maak while 12 Lisaw
families said that they would leave.  Col. Sawat of the Thai Army met us

at his office in Therd Thai and accepted the signed statement for the
record and appeared to agree that the village would be allowed to remain

where it was.

I can not say that I trust the situation for a number of reasons
although the intended moving date has been passed.  Currently Huai Maak
is in continued discussions with the Thai Army because now it is said
that there are not enough people to move to the new location so no one
will be allowed to move, not that this should trouble anyone, but I am
just curious what the new strategy is?

Secondly, the policy of the Forestry Department is so blatantly
disregarding of the health and well being of the villagers in so many
villages that this has to be an issue that does not go away.  In
discussions with numerous other villages in the last few days it becomes

clear that the Thai Forestry Department continues to treat the Akha as
aliens in Thailand by policy, telling them as much and that wether they
have enough land to farm for food is not the problem of forestry.  This
guise is used as justification to continue to plant large amounts of
pine, thousands of acres of pine, planting more all the time.  Any field

that is left unused is moved in on with pine sapplings.  Areas that have

grown up with pine already show what a dead forest it is.

The Akha meanwhile are being paid small wages to plant these trees on
the land they farm as a kind of consolation prize or mockery at best.

Many villages no longer have enough land, and many  more are loosing
crucial amounts of land this year.  Reduced quantities of land force the

Akha to plant the same land over and over with decreasing rice yields
and the collapse of these soils which then can not be rotated.

Without hard numbers to draw just how dark the picture is it can only be

said that an overview of the situation shows the Akha to be in a crisis
of survival because of lack of land.  The alternatives is that they move

little by little, dispersed by the hardship, the villages breaking up.

I will be studying how this situation can be addressed as a collective
issue for all the villages, not just Huai Maak and will be reporting on
that as soon as possible.

A second gathering place has now been completed in Mae Chan Luong Akha
Village just outside of Doi Maesalong.  This village is being split by
the Chinese Baptists against the wishes and request of the elders and
head man.  The Chinese Baptists involved have said that since they are
doing it for Jesus they can do what they want.  We choose to differ.

Matthew McDaniel


Matthew McDaniel
The Akha Heritage Foundation
386/3 Sailom Joi Rd
Maesai, Chiangrai, 57130
Mobile Phone Number:  Sometimes hard to reach while in Mountains.

US Address:

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

The Akha Heritage Foundation
PO BOX 6073
Salem OR 97304

By Visa Card Secure Site:


Donations by direct banking can be transferred to:

Wells Fargo Bank
Akha Heritage Foundation
Acc. # 0081-889693
Keizer Branch # 1842  04
4990 N. River Road.
Keizer, Oregon,  97303 USA
ABA # 121000248

Or In Thailand:

Matthew  Duncan McDaniel
Acc. # 3980240778
Bangkok Bank Ltd.
Maesai Branch

Web Site:

mailto:akha at loxinfo.co.th

Discussion Groups:
akha at onelist.com
indigenousworld at onelist.com

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