portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary oregon & cascadia

human & civil rights

Akha Back in Salem/Keizer

We have returned to Keizer Oregon from Vientiane Laos after waiting a full year for a visa, meanwhile discovering serious problems with the US drug war in Laos, abuse by NGO staff of Akha women, a trip to the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues at the UN in New York and other items.
Akha family at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Akha family at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
After a year in Laos waiting for a visa for Michu, we have returned to Keizer, via the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

While in Laos we uncovered the disastrous US Drug War in Laos. Eradication of the opium crop while people had nothing else to eat, and the forced relocation of villages as an excuse to make them comply with the eradication program. Villages were forced into the lowlands where malaria took over, killing up to half the population in the villages during the first year, in order to make the US Govt. happy with its eradication program. Since there is little information coming out of Laos it was safe to bet that the US could force its policy, along with the UNODC (office of drugs and crime) and get away with it. Press articles carried glowing reports of crop substitution, which was in fact starvation and death. These issues were brought up at the UN in New York last week.

As well, while in Laos we discovered that the NGO's Norwegian Church Aid, and Action Against Hunger had severe staff problems. NGO staff were systematically raping the young Akha women in the villages of north Laos as the Akha testified to it in video interviews. Currently these stories are breaking in theNorwegian press and soon to be the French press.

Both agencies admitted they had a problem but failed to act to do anything about it.

We assisted Akha in Laos with mosquito nets and other aid that we could afford to render.

At the UN we presented again the Akha case regarding human rights abuses in Thailand. We note that a Thai is the next possible head of the UN, a bad choice, considering Thailand's reputation for human rights.

We also presented for the final statement of the 5th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that the relevant UN agencies must investigate the forced removal of indigenous children from their communities.

Now we turn our attention to Salem and the US. We will continue to do projects in SE Asia as funding permits. In Salem, there is the issue of two missionaries who are supporting the removal of Akha children and destruction of their culture in Thailand.

Also there is the issue of OMF and their website which makes racist statements against the Akha, in the same region where Norwegian Church Aid staff were raping the village women, some of whom became pregnant.

Click the OMF website link on www.akha.org

Also there are links to the Norwegian articles and a movie from that was made at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues.

If you would like a human rights presentation at your location regarding the Akha situation, please let us know.

We will continue to publicize regarding Akha human rights in SE Asia. We also continue to look for two Akha families smuggled into Sacramento. There will be a new Akha film coming out in Novermber. We will post that as soon as we know.

We have a lot of updating and repair to do on the website too. Hope to hear from you soon.

homepage: homepage: http://www.akha.org

it's remarkable what the Akha delegation got done at the U.N. 05.Jun.2006 14:41

friend of the indigenous

If you do your research on this year's UNPFII you can find all kinds of good AV materials that cover what happened there. A little googling brought up:

Video from the closing press conference. In the 40-minute closing conference...

 http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/multimedia.html

...you can see Permanent Forum Member Wilton Littlechild address the topic of the forced removal of children from their villages (fast forward to around 34:20 on the minute counter). You will also find a good video primer on the UNPFII on the page above.

See the recommendations resulting from the of UNPFII for'06, under "25 May 06" (with other AV from the start of the conference listed on 15 May 06) on the page below:

 http://www.un.org/webcast/2006.html

At the page below you can find the story UN radio did about the UNPFII on 15 May, the opening day:

 http://radio.un.org/story.asp?NewsID=4461

Here's the one they did on the music & dancing on the 18th of May:

 http://radio.un.org/search_d.asp?NewsDate=5/18/2006

...for a good solid overview of the whole PFII with good pics see:

 http://indigeniousmedia.blogspot.com

and to see video of the Akha "intervention" (their statement to the forum) check:

 link to www.fpcn-global.org

Looks like the voices of traditional Akha are finally being HEARD!

Akha in New York: what a sight! 06.Jun.2006 16:43

observer

I have been familiar with this organization for more than a year, and have followed closely their work for Akha human rights in SE Asia.

I was fortunate enough to go to the UNPFII this year and watch the forum in process and see what it is that the Akha Heritage Foundation is trying to accomplish. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was amazing to see after having heard for years about the exclusion of indigenous voices from governments, from decision-making processes of international financial bodies, and from broader public awareness. Here they were, the representatives of some of the most marginalized peoples on the planet, speaking face to face with the representatives of governments, financial institutions, development agencies and the media, right in the middle of New York city at the U.N.

The Akha delegation made their case before the members of the Permanent Forum, requesting that U.N. agencies and governments alike take action to protect Akha human rights.

It is interesting to note that in deliberations about the rights of indigenous peoples the United States is one of the countries that tries hardest to block indigenous rights all over the world, along with New Zealand and Australia. These three countires made a joint statement in which they made it clear that they would refuse to recognize the more than ten years this broad indigenous community has invested in creating the Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Here it is important to keep in mind that the U.S. is the country that sends the most missionaries out to Akha villages where the Akha have very few human rights or choices. Missionaries in this region are also funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars under the guise of the 'Religious Initiatives'. See  http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0305,hargreaves,41484,1.html for more detail on that.

Keep watching  http://www.akha.org for new developments in the Akha story!