As Myanmar drugs turn Thai youth gangs to violence, Thai woman struggles to reform them
For many years in Chiang Mai, Thailand, over 50 youth gangs, inflamed by drugs from nearby Myanmar, have engaged in violent turf wars. In the last decade-plus a woman named Laddawan Chaininpun, nicknamed Grandmother Aew, has worked with the gangs. By now, she has persuaded about half of them to meet together peacefully. Recently she has received support from the Swedish branch of a temperance organization, the Good Templars. For more, see here.
Khun Sa dies at 74, onetime Golden Triangle drug lord
Khun Sa, son of a Chinese father and a Shan mother, once was the leading drug lord in the so-called Golden Triangle where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand meet. At that time the USA offered a multi-million dollar award for his capture. Khun Sa claimed to be leading a liberation army on behalf of the oppressed ethnic Shan minority. When he died recently at age 74, he was living peacefully at Yangon, the Myanmar capital, as part of some sort of a deal with the military junta that ruled there.
Opium: from the golden triangle to the golden crescent
Three decades ago 70% of the world's opium was grown in the so-called golden triangle, upland districts of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. Now, partly because of pressure from China where recently much of the heroin has been sold, the golden triangle is responsible for no more than 5%. Today opium is mostly (92% of the world's production) grown in the golden crescent, southern Afghanistan, with the total world production perhaps doubled. For more, see here.
Sea of pink and white
The mountains of northern Laos have changed colour. In the past five years, the opium poppy fields that for the last two centuries lent splashes of colour to the pervading green of the jungle have become a thing of the past.
In their stead, small plantations of tea, peach trees and even asparagus are springing up in the heart of the “Golden Triangle”, the lawless opium-producing region at the junction of Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.
The Khaleej Times reports.
U.S. says Southeast Asia is facing amphetamine epidemic
A flood of amphetamine-type stimulants has fueled an epidemic in Southeast Asia, according to a U.S. government report. The China-Post reports.
Myanmar plans to eradicate production of opium poppies by 2014
Myanmar, the world's second-largest grower of opium after Afghanistan, has slashed its poppy cultivation by 60 per cent over the past four years, a semi-official publication said on Monday.
The Hindustran Times reports.
Deforestation in Myanmar facilitates opium cultivation
Rampant deforestation in Myanmar's (Burma's) northern states, bordering China, has led to an increase in opium cultivation by a new crop of more sophisticated farmers, a senior United Nations official acknowledged on Tuesday. M&C News reports.
Tobacco firm has secret North Korea plant
British American Tobacco, the world's second largest cigarette company, has secretly been operating a factory in North Korea for the past four years, the Guardian has learned. The company opened the plant in a joint venture with a state owned corporation shortly before the regime was denounced by George Bush as a member of the "axis of evil", and despite widespread concern over the country's human rights record.
BAT has never mentioned the factory in its annual accounts, and it is thought that many shareholders are unaware of its links with the country.
The discovery of the secret factory comes two years after BAT was forced to pull out of Myanmar, formerly Burma, under pressure from the UK government and human rights campaigners. The human rights record of the communist regime in North Korea is widely regarded as even worse than that of the brutal military dictatorship in Burma. Find the full story at the Guardian (17 October 2005).
One Last Harvest
The Economist reports (10 February 2005) on the ban on opium in Myanmar, which will leave millions of farmers without livelihoods. The supreme leader of Myanmar's Wa Special Region No. 2 is allowing his farmers one last harvest—just getting under way—of opium poppies before enforcing an absolute ban on the drug, its cultivation, sale and consumption. Find the full story here.
Gulnoza Saidazimova, in a report for Radio Free Europe carried by the Asia Times Online, reports on the current state of Afghanistan's opium production and its influence on Central Asian countries.