Akha Hill Tribe Thailand

http://www.akha.org Heart of the Golden Triangle in South East Asia, the Akha Hill Tribe people find themselves living in the mountain border zones of five countries, fighting to sustain their way of life in a time of consumerism and destruction of the natural environment. Embattled to defend their traditional culture from seige by american missionaries, they hang on. See how you can help. Join: akhaweeklyjournal-subscribe@yahoogroups.com Make a donation or be a volunteer in Thailand.

Saturday, August 10, 2002


Please Forward This Alert.

This is a very serious situation.

Harrassment of Akha National.

Dear Friends:

Traditional Akha Woman Activist has her home illegally searched for second time.

For the second time in two weeks, Akha woman activist Meeh Juuh (Chutima Morlaeku) has had her home searched by Chiangmai Police.

For years Meeh Juuh has worked selflessly to help the hilltribe get their ID Card paperwork finished in order to become full Thai citizens. Many times the paperwork is held up by corrupt officials or large "fees" are sought to complete it.

Approximately 50,000 of Thailand's 70,000 Akha still do not have their ID cards finished. They now face deportation. Though thousands of Akha have grown up from childhood working for Thai families and businesses, having been seperated at an early age from their villages due to these jobs they may often have almost no paperwork and no hope of getting an ID card under the current practices. They also have no one to represent them, having been seperate from the villages for so long, or since parents may also be deceased.

Please contact you THAI embassy nearest you and insist that the harrassment of Meeh Juuh Chutima Morlaeku stop immediately and that there be an investigation into who ordered these searches.

Matthew McDaniel


Bangkok Post - Thailand

Aug 10, 2002


Activist says police want to intimidate

Lawyer hired after her home searched

Ploenpote Atthakor

Meeh Juuh Chutima Morlaeku

Chutima Morlaeku, an activist fighting to win Thai citizenship for hilltribe people, has asked the Law Society of Thailand to step in after her house was raided by police for the second time in less than three weeks.

Ms Chutima, who works with Inter-Mountain People Education and Culture in Thailand Association, said plainclothes police searched her house on July 29 in her absence.

The search, like the first one on July 14, produced nothing. It was an act of intimidation and meant to tarnish her reputation, she said.

Valuables and 35,000 baht had gone missing. The money, most of it from donations, was intended for the citizenship campaign. ``Three necklaces, which looked like gold, were placed in my house as well,'' she said.

Chutima, a well-known advocate for hilltribe people, said police hoped to intimidate her into stopping her campaign. She feared for her life and would go into hiding.

``They think they can easily intimidate me because I am a woman,'' she said. She would lodge a complaint with the National Police Bureau and the Human Rights Commission.

Somchai Homla-or, of the society's human rights committee, urged the police bureau to look into the case.

``Disciplinary action should also be taken against those involved,'' he said.

Mr Somchai said Chutima could sue police for damages and a society lawyer would be appointed to handle the case.

She could also report the case to the United Nations.

``At first, she was scared to file a complaint but finally plucked up the courage. Other activists might be spared such intimidation if she complains,'' he said.

First Incident

Bangkok Post

Wed. 31 July


Drugs search `last straw'

Activist says police harass, threaten her

Ploenpote Atthakor

Threats and intimidation are nothing new for Chutima Morlaeku, an Akha activist fighting for citizenship for hilltribe people.

But the latest incident, in which police whisked her from Chiang Mai airport to her home in search of drugs was the last straw, she says.

She believes the July 14 search, as she returned from a trip to China, was linked to her outspokenness and efforts to protect hilltribe villagers.

``Police approached me as I was leaving the airport with my sister and niece. They grabbed me by the arms and took me to their car without telling me of the charges. Nor did they produce any court document,'' said Ms Chutima, who works with Impect, Inter-Mountain People Education and Culture in Thailand association. Altogether 30 police took part.

``They searched for drugs at my house and the house of my mother and my sister. They turned up nothing because my family has never been involved with drugs.

``But I was afraid police would frame me, manufacturing the charges and evidence, just as they have done to so many hilltribe people,'' she said .

The association's adviser, a senior government official, told her that police wanted her to keep quiet.

``Next time, they'll have placed drugs in my house when they come to look,'' Ms Chutima said.

Chiang Mai police chief Pol Maj-Gen Kasem Rattanasunthorn said he would look into the case. However, he said it was all right for police to search a suspect's house without telling the person of the charges, as long as they had a court-issued search warrant.

Warin Tiamcharas of the Law Society of Thailand disagreed, saying police had abused their power. Ms Chutima should complain to the Human Rights Commission, he said.

Bangkok Post

August 8, 2002


Northerners upset over activist's arrest

Seek rights inquiry into police actions

Chewin Sattha

The National Human Rights Commission will be asked to look into the police action in searching the house of a woman hilltribe activist and arresting her without reason.

Northern activists yesterday lodged a complaint with Chiang Mai Governor Kosin Kethong through senior provincial officer Adul Huaknil, demanding justice for Chutima Morlaeku, an Akha activist fighting for citizenship for hilltribe people.

Provincial authorities then asked Chiang Mai police to provide details of the raid and the reasons within 15 days.

A leading activist said the national rights commission would be asked to look into the police action.

Chomchuan Boonrahong, representing northern non-governmental organisations, said plainclothes police searched Chutima's house in San Sai district, Chiang Mai, on July 14 without a warrant and then arrested her and her relatives at Chiang Mai airport, also without a warrant, when they arrived from China the same day.

Ms Chutima, alias Mee Ju, 18, said the police actions frightened her and her family and caused her mother to fall sick. She said she had lost US$200 in the search. Police also searched two other houses owned by her siblings.

Her house was also broken into last Saturday and 35,000 baht in cash stolen.

``I didn't expect such a thing would happen to me. I thought it happened only on TV. I am just a vendor who wants to help fellow hilltribe people,'' Ms Chutima said in tears.

Pol Maj-Gen Kasem Ratanasunthorn, the Chiang Mai police chief, insisted that police had not abused their authority. They had reasons for their actions that could not be revealed.

Ms Chutima was born in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai, in 1984 and started working as a volunteer for the Inter-Mountain People Education and Culture in Thailand association (Impect) in 1991.

A local activist said police had wrongfully accused her of drug dealing.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Disappearances Reason For Joy?

I always wondered why the Hilltribe were happy to see me. They seemed to be so overjoyed, or was it relief, or hope, or desperation?

For whatever else it might have been, recent revelations of secret killings of many of their number by the powers that be, on an annual basis, give one good reason to realize that contact with the outside world is definitely a blessing and relief for these people, maybe just maybe somehow, hope or rescue has come to town.

And the killings and disappearances add up. The authorities show no shame over it, the incidents are becoming more routine, and a greater network of reporting is illustrating it as a widespread problem.

The "Who" of the disappearances is not so maticulously noted by the Akha as the fact that they know their people are disappearing with no recourse on how to check it out. Trucks with numerous passengers, lone motorbike riders, go off the hill to town and never come home, the vehicles and motorbikes are never seen again and no one ever comes around asking or questioning regarding discovered evidence, etc.

Maybe we need to start a register of those numbers missing, but we are fearful it will be an enormous task, as the numbers start coming out.

Just in the last year I have been made aware of ten disappearances or more, both Akha and Lahu, the last being two Lahu missing now for one month.
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