YellowTimes editorial on the Akha activist
... In short, after a long reign of being the authority, it is my belief that he had become Joseph Conrad's character, Colonel Kurz, from his novel "Heart of Darkness" (Film, Apocalypse Now) about a westerner who makes himself a god among the hill tribes of Lao. He was given to delusions of grandeur and megalomania. He suffered from paranoia, and subscribed to conspiracy theories. Among the people he professed to hate were the government, the police, the army, the DEA, the missionaries, other NGOs, the CIA, journalists, researchers, photographers, The Shan State Army, Americans, backpackers, tourists, Thais, and any person, connected with any project involved with the Akha, other than his own. He even hated the volunteers who came to help him in the village, calling them hippies with cameras and free loaders. Over half of the volunteers who worked with Matthew, during my time in the village, either left, or were kicked out, after a heated argument...
...Irrespective of personality flaws, over-zealous behavior, and indelicate treatment of our Thai hosts, Mathew's cause, helping the Akha people, was a just one. And now, there is no one to take up the baton.
responds - April 26, 2004
Matthew McDaniel, the detained Akha activist, responds to comments made on 2Bangkok.com last week about the Akha.org website:
|The site sounded shrill?
Is that as in the sound that and Akha makes
when they are beaten to death?
Shrill is something people say when the reality they are looking at can not possibly make them feel more comfortable than they already are.
The real reason, and the ongoing reason that people don't speak out about the Akha situation is because they too feel they would loose their beer and hooker licenses in the Kingdom if they took up the life and death cause of these people.
To not like a website is not convenient reason to not know the facts. And had you or more people asked that facts be verified, you would have found out that the facts were very easy to verify, and that being the case, the site was not accusations or shrill, it was very serious data that just didn't meet people's desired view of Thailand or the world.
I reported on murders, torture, disappearances, extortion, the removal of children, all of it, and it was all based on request from the Akha and facts, none of it speculation, there was far too much going on for me to need to water down my work looking at speculation rather than real cases, which I couldn't keep up with anyway.
So I hope that you will take a look at army reports, other reports, and consder that web sites are not based on how much money can be spent to build them but on how readily one can verify the cases they identify?
The chances for people at the Post or the Nation to come up and see the cases were ample.
The Bangkok Post ran numerous cases till they were reprimanded by the Army, then claimed that I was exagerating, that the cases were not there, which was an outright lie, and quit covering the stories. This was in events where wives lost husbands who have not come home to this day and the Bangkok Post was cowardly in the extreme to say that I exagerated these cases, as in maybe their husbands were on extended drunks that lasted years, and that really they were not dead, not murdered by the Thai army after all.
But then the newspapers wouldn't look good and could be shut down if they printed the truth, all of the truth, all of the time about what was going on in Thailand, rather than a constructed reality about things like Thai forestry stealing all the hilltribe land, and the forced prostitution of a good percentage of the female Thai population.
Country wouldn't look like land of smiles then now would it?
Problem with Falangs in Thailand is they start thinking with corrupted little minds just like the Thais.
The truth is not flexible
also comments in a separate email about the details
of his arrest:
|...I just now last evening
got back to Oregon after 9 days at immigration
I was never told I was charged with a crime by the Thais but am told by the embassy now that I was charged with violation of the Thai immigration law and was arrested under section 54(12)7 of Thai immigration law stating that I was a nuisance or danger to the public. Of course the Thais could not tell me how this occurred, what the danger was, as in was I protecting Akhas from being killed, therefore I was dangerous, if one considers that maybe killing Akhas is a normal process and not killing them is dangerous.
The Thai Human Rights Commission came to IDC and decided to take my case and investigate it.
...The arrest itself put the Akha situation in many newspapers and media sites around the world. This case follows on the tail of the Special UN Envoy Hina Jilani whom I saw last year in Chiangmai, who is the Envoy for Human Rights Defenders, speaking out at Geneva and saying that Thailand was failing to protect its human rights defenders.
The technical term for what happened to me is "retaliation against a human rights defender(HRD)"
...We will be identifying Thai exports and trade partners in the western world, and beginning calls for international boycotts of trade and tourism to Thailand including but not limited to Thai Airways...
Embassy helping activist in Thailand - Statesman Journal, April 22, 2004
...Matthew McDaniel, 46, remains jailed in the Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok, where he has been held since his arrest a week ago.
He will be deported at the earliest opportunity, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said. The embassy is helping McDaniel find a flight from Thailand to the United States and to gather his own money to buy an airline ticket.
... McDaniel was being held under a Thai immigration law that allows deportation of people whose behavior is dangerous to the security of the public and the nation, the embassy spokesman said. The Thai government revoked McDaniels visa.
All of McDaniels years in Thailand have been supported by 30-day or 90-day tourist visas, which alone stretched Thai immigration law, the spokesman said.
...Portland human-rights activist Edith Mirante said she can imagine what McDaniel is going through. Mirante has followed McDaniels work since she met him several years ago.
In 1988, she was imprisoned in the detention center where McDaniel is detained now. She later was deported. She thinks her detention was an attempt by the Thai government to make an example of her.
Mirante said McDaniel has exposed what he thinks is the role of the Thai government in exploiting the tribal Akha people...
Matthew McDaniel's site has been updated.
Earlier: U.S. activist detained at Immigration - The Nation, April 17, 2004
We have followed this person's website for some time, but never linked because it was full of shrill accusations and looked like a crank's site (one enormously long page, various text sizes, hysterical headlines, etc.). Recently, it was switched to a slashcode-type interface and started to seem a bit more mainstream. It will be interesting to see how this case turns out...