People who walked past 13th and Kincaid around 12:30 today were greeted by the sight of a group of young boys and girls dressed in traditional garb holding large cardboard signs bearing slogans such as “UO Gives PhD in Akha Genocide!” and “Richard Haugland Loves Baby Akha girls for Their DNA!”
Pictures and a little bit about what this is all about below the fold.
So apparently this guy, Richard Haugland, founded the Richard R. Haugland Foundation, which, among other things, runs some schools in Southeast Asia. Haughland has drawn the ire of the The Akha Foundation, which exists, according to its mission statement, to
protect the human rights of the Akha people in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, China and Vietnam. Our work includes protection for Akha language and culture, defending land rights, ending abuses by security forces, preventing the removal of Akha children, improving health care and providing clean water systems. We are joined by volunteers from around the world, and we also encourage people to share the work by starting their own projects to bolster the Akha cause.
According to the Akha Foundation, missionaries are converting Akha kids and taking them away from their families. They link to a video called “Prisoners of a White God” that apparently explains their views further. I’m at work and haven’t watched it. Their blog, which starts here, also alleges that Haugland is involved with an organized program to deprive Akha kids of their culture… and maybe something more sinister!
It seems that back in 1978, the University of Oregon gave someone named Paul W. Lewis a PhD. According to Akha.org, his PhD thesis has resulted in genocide, and they want something done about it. Specifically:
We are asking that the State Board of Higher Education take the following actions:
1. The State Board of Higher Education immediately rescind the PhD. of Paul W. Lewis.
2. The State Board of Higher Education make a formal, public and written published apology to the Akha people for the sterilizations of Akha women that were conducted as part of this “research” and that have continued to this day as a result of the permission that was extended to the Thai Government.
3. The State Board of Higher Education make it clear that they will in no way support education research that is racist, coercive or discriminatory in nature.
4. The State Board of Higher Education make a written statement to the Government of Thailand, presented to the Thai Ambassador to the US, Mr. Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn, that the State Board of Higher Education for Oregon revokes any approval or consent for the sterilizations of indigenous women in Thailand under any conditions that fail to meet the requirements of Full, Prior and Informed Consent according to International Standards of Human Rights Law, further asking the Thai Government to respect and protect the rights of the Akha people.
You might be asking yourself “so what?” Well, if their demands aren’t met, there will be consequences. To wit:
If the State Board of Higher Education fails to take these actions, then we consider that all diplomas which have been issued by any school in Oregon which falls under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Higher Education to be worthless.
No doubt that will prove to be a major barrier to employment for any graduate of the Oregon University System who tries to find a job in an Akha village.
With fire in their hearts, the potesters did what anyone would’ve done: they mounted their mighty steeds (literally!) and rode to the U of O to demand that Frohnmayer revoke Lewis’ degree. YouTube already has a video up from the protest from earlier today (the wonders of the internet!), during which the “Ride for Freedom” protesters head over to Oregon Hall on horseback to confront the Administration… and get told that there’s nothing doing.
So how do Haugland, Invitrogen, and little girls’ DNA fit into all this? Well, I haven’t unravelled that yet. Evidently Haugland sold his company to Invitrogen to fund his foundation, which the Akha.org folks accuse of taking Akha kids away from their families and culture and putting them in schools full of alleged abuses. The only thing I can find about DNA comes from some wild mad-scientist conspiracy theorizing on their blog:
We’d like to know how Richard Haugland went from being a micro biologist interested in genetic markers to where he is today? After he sold Molecular Probes in Eugene, Oregon he suddenly showed up in northern Thailand and build a residential compound. He began going to Akha villages and talking Akha parents out of their little girls, promising them a great education. On his site it is a cradle to university strategy. But volunteers at the compound state that he kicks out the “dumb” children and that there is serious phsychological abuse at the school of the remaining children. We find it odd that this man who has an interest in genetics suddenly shows up in Thailand and starts taking away Akha girls as if he is doing some kind of genetic selection. He tosses money around to anyone working with children in the region as if buying his position and protection.
So there you have it. Mad genetic scientist Richard Haugland and his wife co-founded a company called Molecular Probes here in Eugene back in the 70′s, eventually sell their company to Invitrogen, move to Thailand, and start whisking young girls off to a compound for “education.” Not only that, but these girls are almost all from the same ethnic group as was targeted by an Oregon alum from the 70′s for genocide! All the pieces fit!
… Okay, so I’m still as confused as you. But I wish I would’ve known we could get degrees in genocide when I was choosing my major.
Please excuse the poor quality of these pictures… they were taken on a borrowed camera phone in the rain.