Indymedia repression Thailand

Akha and Indymedia Activist Arrested in Thailand



Matthew McDaniel is a Human Rights activist that has been living and working with the Akha tribe in Northern Thailand since 1991. Recently he also got involved in setting up an Indymedia in Thailand. Last week he got arrested at the border between Thailand and Burma and he is now being detained at a deportation centre in Bangkok.

According to an activist that recently travelled through Thailand Matthews arrest puts not only his family but the whole village in danger. "By his sheer presence and loud mouth he was the 'protector' of the village, the police and military were reluctant to enter the village." According to a friend of Matthews the "village might be under attack". He said he doesn't know what the "Thai and the Burmese government are capable or willing to do".

Contact the Thai embassy in your country: list of Thai embassies worldwide

Matthew McDaniel was arrested on 11:00 AM Thursday, April 15th at the Maisai Immigration Checkpoint while going to deliver vitamins to an Akha friend in Burma. Matthew McDaniel was fighting to save the land of Aooh Yok Akhe that was being taken by the government.

In January 2004, Matthew McDaniel officially filed a report with the U.N., citing 47 cases of murder, extra judicial killings, torture and other abuse by the Thai Army and Police against Hill Tribe People. For three weeks, Matthew McDaniel had heard serious rumours from leaks at the U.S. Embassy in Thailand that he was going to be deported. He complained via email to Embassy Personnel that such leaks were reckless and illegal and asked for the reports to be confirmed. However, the Embassy gave no reply, negligence that prevented Mr. McDaniel from making arrangements to protect himself and his wife from police abuse, arrest and deportation.

Matthew McDaniel’s wife is pregnant and he has four children living in Chiang Rai. Matthew is currently held by the Thai Authorities at the Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Centre and awaiting deportation. He has been informed of the charges against him or been able to speak with a lawyer about his case. The U.S. Embassy has not sent a representative to discuss the status of his case or the possibility of stopping the deportation proceedings. For now, Mr. McDaniel waits, knowing his wife and children are at risk, and hoping that he can challenge the legality of his arrest and deportation through formal channels.

What You Can Do:

Write to your Nearest Thai Embassy and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Michael McDaniel! Demand an official apology from the Thai authorities.

Write your MP/Senator and demand a full inquiry into the arrest of Mr. McDaniel. If you are American, demand a full accounting from the U.S. embassy in Thailand for its failure to protect an American Human Rights Activist. Pass this article far and wide. Encourage international and local press to write articles, condemning the actions of the Thai authorities and calling for Matthews release.

If you happen to be in Thailand, you can visit him and speak with him directly during visiting hours at the Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Centre. To do so, you must arrive between 10:00-11:00 to receive a form. The doors open for visiting at 11:00, but it is good to be there early. Bring your passport, which you will have to check at the door. You can visit his room (2) from 11:00-12:00 and speak openly with him.

Visit for more information. Make a donation to the Akha projects. Deported or not the projects will continue. Read more about Mr. McDaniel and his fight to save the Akha people:For more information see Jim Pollard’s article, “Akha Crusader: "US Activist Detained at Suan Phlu." The Nation. 18 April 2004.


Check also

Link 20.Apr.2004 16:50

The akha webiste

link doesn't work

... 20.Apr.2004 17:11

List of Thai embassies in the world doesn't work....

deaths galore

friend of the akha 20.Apr.2004 20:09

please fix links. the akha and other tribes in northern thailand have been being found mysteriously murdered for the past few years now. usually tribe leaders or laisons to the government. there has been a historic battle for land and rights with the tribes of thailand and burma. i will try and find some sites as well.

More background info

Takver 21.Apr.2004 02:49

More background info is available in postings by Mick Lambe on Melbourne IMC and the new Darwin IMC (in process of joining the Indymedia network).

We've had three emails on this proposed expulsion of Matthew McDaniel in the past few hours from various sources. We've received posts on Matthew's work in Thailand for about a year.

It's an ongoing horror story.

"In January 2004, Matthew McDaniel officially filed a report (1503) with the U.N., citing 47 cases of murder, extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuse by the Thai Army and Police against Hill Tribe People. Mr. McDaniel is currently being held by the Thai Authorities at the Suan Phlu Immigration Detention Center."

Matthews work

Jonathan Wishnev 21.Apr.2004 05:58

This arrest could possibly be related to the ruckus matthew started about the sweedish missionary, Mr. Woon (who runs an orphange) who was accused of molesting young boys. Matthew brought an inquiry to the Sweedish police, but they have failed to interview the boys, and have places the blame on the victims. Mr. Woon moved his orphange and continues to run it. As Matthew and I drove past the new location, I couldnt help but feel disgusted to know that possibly more children are being abused and neither the sweedish or the thai government is acting to stop it.
In fact, my entire experience with matthew was spent speaking to the people in the hilltribes and seeing the pain firsthand. Seeing the barbed wire wrapped around their stolen land, with the new orange trees that had been planted there, as the akha people sprayed paraquat and other pesticides on the fruit, I gazed at the barbed wire, that was strung up to prevent the akha from eating the oranges, I realized that what matthew was doing was of utmost importance. He literally is the only one fighting for them, and his voice is the loudest in thailand. If he is silenced, who will continue the fight?
There are many issues that matthew has raised that have ruffled the feathers of the thai government. The only law that matthew has broken is to tell the truth, and create change....
In Solidarity

Here is a better link to the "Nation" article

SuZQ 22.Apr.2004 01:32

Try clicking here, for Jim Pollard's article on the situation:

Useful links. Akha. Thai drug war killings of thousands.

eco man 23.Apr.2004 10:43

Map/DrugNews archive search shortcut:

Webform with letter to Thailand's ambassador. The letter can be edited, deleted, or changed in any way. One can write anything they want to the ambassador:

Some Google, Google News, and Map/DrugNews shortcuts:"Matthew+McDaniel""Matthew+McDaniel"

For much more info on Matthew McDaniel, the Akha people, the U.S.-aided Thai death-squad drug war that killed thousands without trial, etc.. DEA, U.S. police, and U.S. military involvement with Thailand. and Many illustrated messages on Thai drug-war killings. Email list. a searchable mirror of the above list. Google search of list archive. Add terms. Titled index of list. Akha discussion list with an archive. A searchable archive of the discussion list. The Akha Heritage Foundation. Death squads worldwide. Drug reform and other independent news sites.

Quotes from April 18, 2004 The Nation (Thailand) article. Emphasis added:

"McDaniel produced 'Akha Voices', a 270-page book which details disturbing allegations of abductions and extrajudicial killings by Thai army and police officers that it claims amount to 'ethnic cleansing'. ..."

"He is also described as a staunch critic of the US 'war on drugs', which he says has resulted in thousands of Akha being imprisoned 'at the hands of the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency]'."

Message from Matthew after he was deported

posted by Libby 26.Apr.2004 19:25

Dear Friends:

For those of you who have not heard, without
explanation I was arrested on 15 April at Maesai while
renewing my visa by Thai immigration and told by the
Maesai Thai Immigration Chief that I was being
deported immediately.

I was not surprised, I have been living day to day for
13 years. In a country which so readily kills the Akha
I could only expect it.

I was later told that I was being deported under a
clause in Thai Immigration law for a person being a
"nuisance or danger to the public".

In a place where murdering Akha people is considered
normal, I am sure I endangered those engaged in this

In a place where funding obscene drug war as the
United States has been doing for years, I am sure I
endangered those engaged in this sport.

In a place where claiming that Akha Hill Tribe
children were poor, justfying the AMERICAN
missionaries taking them away from their parents, I am
sure I endangered those engaged in this sport.

I was driven immediately to Bangkok and put in Suan
Phlu, a hell hole, where people recently released from
Bangkwang and Lard Yao prisons claimed that it was far
worse than any experience in those locations. This was
claimed by people who had just finished ten year
prison sentences!

The building is an office building, with cells built
into it, there is no ventilation, the food is old rice
with boiled discarded over age cucumbers. The skeleton
of a chicken might be thrown in.

On the night I left there were 85 people in my cell,
and 250 people in the cell adjacent to me.

Many of the elderly in the cell were mentally
disturbed, unable to cope with nothing to do, little
food, no nutrition, and unspeakable heat. Sleeping for
more than 2 hours at a time was nigh on impossible
with the drenching heat. Due to a fire that destroyed
the homes of 5,000 Thais next to the immigration
center (what kind of clean up job was that?) there was
no water for a day in the cell, fortunately I left
before seeing that continue.

In one cell two depraved foreigners repeatedly hit any
of the Burmese or other Asian prisoners at will.

Young boys were kept in the cells with adults,
Vietnamese, having committed the high crime of walking
on a Thai beach looking for fish. No one could speak
their language and there were no reading materials for

There was never any opportunity to speak with a

Finally the Thai Human Rights Commission people came
down and agreed to take my case after speaking with

The US Embassy came and made arrangements for my air
ticket, but told me specifically that they had no
prior knowledge of my impending arrest, which is quite
difficult to imagine.

There was no statement or protest by the US Embassy of
my arrest even though I have vigorously supplied
documentation of human rights abuses to them for
years, information that can be found in Embassy Web
Site Human Rights Documents.

I was told by numerous people that they found the
Embassy position on the arrest most disturbing,
Embassy officials stating that I had "Broken Thai Law"

During my stay of 9 days at the Immigration Detention
Center I was able to talk to numerous prisoners
released from other prisons who told me that Akha
prisoners in Bangkok prisons were the worst treated
people in the entire facilities. While other people
ate better rice, good food was never given to these

The Akha were treated poorly and made to work like
slaves from very early morning till late in the day.
Far from home, they never got visitors or help.

Guards carried big clubs, resembling axe handles or
larger, and one blow to a person with such a club
would do such severe damage that many prisoners went
to the hospital the next day and eventually died.

The man I spoke with knew of at least ten deaths in
this fashion.

On Saturday I flew back to the United States and

I will continue to work to get my wife and children
out of the country as well as to clear the ban on my
stay in Thailand.

I will be filing a second petition to the UN under a
clause that considers deportation after filing the
first UN 1503 cases, retaliation.

Free to travel for the first time in a long while, I
will now be going to various places in the world,
highlighting the Akha struggle and rousing supporters
for preventing the human rights abuses of the Akha

As you know, the US has some of the fastest on line
computer access in the world. Air tickets are cheap,
major western hubs in Europe and the US are nearby, if
the Thai Government THOUGHT that deporting me was the
way to end the problem they are in for a very rude

For 13 years I have battled to assist the Akha people
and protect their lives and culture. Join me now
strongly in an even deeper committment to bring
attention to the needs of the Akha people to the world

If you are in Thailand, your assistance following up
on certain cases, locating new cases and helping
document what the Akha are experiencing CONTINUES and
you can play a crucial part.

Helping get the Akha people on line, telling their own
story is of enormous importance. The Akha Peace And
Justice Center at Pah Nmm Akha in the Haen Taek region
will continue.

Photos, Video, music, and documentation is crucial.

In addition, you must demand an explanation of the
Government for the legal justification of my
deportation. Complain to your nearest Thai embassy,
and complain to your Senator or MP demanding that the
Thai ambassador in your country be called to task.

Unfortunately, Thailand's neighbors such as the
Burmese in particular, despite all attempts to skew
the truth otherwise, have always treated the Akha as
equals and far better than Thailand has.

For promoting democracy in Thailand you should join
the Thailand Indy Media site as well.

If you have energy, if you have funds which you can
donate, if you have ideas, contact me, take action,
help the Akha people.

I will continue to run a protest action against the
Thai Government taking all the land of Hooh Yoh Akha
villages without due process.

At this time we need to respond more dilligently than
before, if the Thai Government should somehow consider
that in the Haen Taek region of Ampur Mae Fah Luang
their problems are over and they can return to the
drug trade exploiting and murdering Akha people at
will as was the case when I first moved to Pah Nmm
Akha village in that area.

If you would like to take on specific investigative
tasks, please contact me, I can certainly help you
with that. Much information is still needed, some
information relating to the deportation is needed as

There are also particular villages which are in harms
way that need visits. If you can not speak Thai, you
will need to take an interpreter.

Please contact me or have any press agencies contact
with any questions that you or they may have.

The protest goes on and the cause of the Akha people
will be defended as before.

With fondest of considerations to the Akha people and
all the people who have supported this work thus far.

And protest people, demand answer and an

Matthew McDaniel
Oregon, USA

The Akha Heritage Foundation. Akha Heritage Site.
Donate Via Credit Card Paypal:

PO Box 6073 Salem, OR. 97304 USA.

The Akha Cause Goes to the UN on Wednesday.

Matthew McDaniel 03.May.2004 18:14

From: Matthew McDaniel
Date: Mon May 3, 2004 12:54 pm
Subject: Akha Weekly Journal: The Akha Cause Goes to
the UN on Wednesday.

Dear Friends:

I am back in the US.
Deported from Thailand for fighting for the Akha
cause, for refusing to compromise when it comes to the
most basic Human Rights of the Akha people.

To some, this was viewed that I was being shut down.
But that in reality is not the case at all and I was
well prepared for this eventuality in the work there.

Now the case of the Akha people is being taken to the
UN, I will be there for a number of days, starting

I will be making updates via email from New York about
what is going to be a learning process.

After that I will be traveling to Washington DC, to
talk to legislators, like Sen. Leahy, regarding US law
that links security aid to Thailand to human righs

The Drug War, I will be talking to Congress people who
probably never knew who an Akha was, let alone that US
Tax Dollars are killing them and putting them away in
prison for infractions at record numbers.

I will be talking about what is being done to Akha
children, how AMERICAN missionaries are taking them
from their culture and villages for financial gain and

Legal disussion of course is already going on about
class action law suits against numerous American
Missions in Thailand. Investigations are also ongoing
into cases of sexual abuse at these missions. Mr. Woon
of Benedikta House has already gone on trial in
Bangkok for the rape of hill tribe boys and I will
forward those results to the web site soon as I hear

Both Catholic and Protestant Missions are in our

And they know who they are.

We will continue to set up IMC Thailand.

From Washington DC I will be traveling to Europe to
discuss the Akha situation in Thailand and raise
additional support for Akha projects.

And then we will have announcements of the progress we
make in establishing network to the international
human rights movement for all Akha people.

I got an email this morning, and it says something
about what I thought about all the Akha people I knew
in Thailand and Burma.

I miss them all for a moment, but I will never never
give up for the Akha people.

And I ask you this, if you have been a donor to this
work, please don't think it is over, and stop, the
work now doubles, triples, what must be done to find
human rights for the Akha.

And if you haven't made a donation before, consider
it, as there is much network that has to be made in
the Akha mountains.

Matthew McDaniel
Salem, Oregon, USA


Dear Matthew

How are you? We can only hope hope you are o.k.
now in America. You know we all miss you.

We cannot describe how much we are sorry about all
the problems you have had from what is supposed to be
a democracy country. You have worked with all your
heart to improve the human rights for the people
especially for Akha people who hardly have any voice.
Even it is hard to talk to you, just to say thank you
for all the hard work you have done for us, because
there is always the fear of the politicians, the
police or the army. Today we just know that you are
gone, somewhere so far away we can't imagine.

We will remember your truck coming up to the
villages always bring good spirits, always asking "how
are we today." And of course there were always lots of
problems, problems with other cultures and other
religions coming to the villages and tearing the
villagers apart, even families cannot join in the
ceremonies together. And this one is not well, needs
some medicine, and that man has disappear, nobody
knows where he is gone, and the children and mother
all alone.

Everyone here has got enough energy to work but
some how the lands are not big enough for everyone
now. In our memory there used to be so much land, and
free, not belong to anybody but the people who farming
there, working hard. We know everything is changing
now and so difficult to survive.

Now, thanks to you, we know a little bit that we
have the right to live on this planet earth. We are
talking now about the land, maybe belong to somebody
far away who has never been here, so where is our
land? Is in Burma, Thailand, China, Laos? Actually
Akha are many people in these countries, we need to
connect with each other more and feel we are more than
just one or two village.

You are only the one and only brother, Akha of the
heart, who fights for akha farm land, fight for the
right of human, fight against other religions coming
to the village and telling us our culture is no good
and say they will give good education to our children
if we give up our culture. You are the only voice
telling the world the reality of our lives.

I have no idea what the future holds. I stand here
in my heart, in the village, in the hills, though I am
far away. The insects are noisy, they are thirsty for
water. How thirsty, how hungry we are, waiting here
for the rain to fall, for the wind to bring relief and
seasons change.


Dear Akha Friend:

I hope you do not despair.

I knew, every day I told my Akha wife, today I go down
the hill, I don't know what happen, maybe I don't come

Be ready. Never fear, take care to the children, the
world is a big place, and if not here, I can fight
from there, where ever "there" is.

So when on April 15, they picked me up in Maesai,
which it turns out they had been trying to do for two
months, there was no surprise, no shock, just
determination to go to the next stage.

For years I had worked alone, I had no one outside
Thailand that could fully link to me, could see the
urgency of what I was doing, had the time to run full
time for the Akha. I wished how many times I could
clone myself and work in one mind, one of me in the
world, one of me in the mountains, where I loved more
than anything to be, one of me free to go the world
and tell what tragedy was befalling the Akha, people
most did not even know existed.

Because there were Akha people there.

I would sit for days on the computer and then have to
get off it and go to the other villages, take some
gift, remember the vitamins, ( I was running vitamins
to Burma when they picked me up), remember a sack of
rice, ask about so and so who was in prison, when were
they coming out, take some pics for a story, go see
this elderly singer, like Ah Gurh at Hooh Yoh Village,
dig out medicine for the imflamation on a babies ear.

Little can describe the GIFT the Akha gave me, to
enjoy who they were, to be in some way Akha, to listen
endlessly to their humor, their stories, their
language, poetic in every tone. Like Ah Peeh, showing
me the burns on his arms and joking about what he told
the army when they electrecuted him at Som Yaek army
base, he was "just so happy to be there" he couldn't
"stop dancing". That is Akha humor.

Tragic humor of a people with a heart so large.

But my plans, my reality that some day I might get
pulled out, was not unprepared. In Thailand I had slow
computers, bad food, no phone to the outside world,
and there is not much money in the environment to draw
on to pay for things for Akha.

But now that I am out, I am free to move as fast as I
can dream for Akha people.

Tomorrow I fly to New York, to the UN. I will be there
many days. A new case now goes against the government
of Thailand at the UN.

"Retaliation Against A Human Rights Defender". The
Thai Government has much to learn.

And out here in America, where beautiful cars are
parked as far as you can see, where the streets are
clean, where everything costs big money, and where the
place is so big, hardly anyone knows who an Akha is
there is a lot of work to do.

I reckon to change that, and to give every Akha a
voice out of Thailand, out of any where they live, to
something that is solely Akha, that looks fully on to
their behalf, only now I have more hope of linking to
the resources that will help that get done.

I have no idea, how long, but when I am done, all the
world will know who the Akha people are.

As soon as I am able I will be setting up aid links
for Akha communities, projects for specific villages,
I know where 280 of them are after all, I brought the
maps all out with me, I had them hidden in the truck
for that very moment I was pulled out, 40 pounds of
maps. And I will set up communication links, so that
people can tell what is going on.

Water, seeds, agriculture, books.

But it is going to take time, how long, I don't know,
but unless I stop, I usually get there.

And please tell the Akha, the Akha you know, this is
not over, it is just starting.

What you know from Akha, post it to the list, and soon
there will be a hotline phone number that Akha people
can call.

Never Never Quit!
Akha Nation
Matthew McDaniel
Salem, Oregon, USA

The Akha Heritage Foundation. Akha Heritage Site.
Donate Via Credit Card Paypal:

PO Box 6073 Salem, OR. 97304 USA.

Official Website of Mr.Thaksin Shinnawatra,Prime Minister 23.Aug.2005 18:38

Please visit's his official website.Every comment would be read.