Burma

Burma's Rohingya refugees tarred with narco-stigma

Posted on July 26th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

South East Asia The Rohingya Muslim people of Burma are facing what some have called genocide in their homeland, long denied citizenship rights and now under attack by both the official security forces and Buddhist-chauvinist militias, who have carried out massacres and burned down their villages. Some 500,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh—where they are not being welcomed. Already confined to squalid refugee camps near the Burmese border, they now face forcible relocation to an uninhabited offshore island. Shunted from one region to another, they are targeted by the predictable propaganda—Burmese authorities have stigmatized them as Muslim terrorists, and now Bangladesh authorities increasingly stigmatize them as drug-traffickers.

Meth plague hits Bangladesh

Posted on April 28th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

South AsiaThe rural marshlands of Bangladesh have become the latest part of the world to be hit by the unhappy global plague of methamphetamine use. More and more of the country's struggling peasants are taking to "yaba," little pink sugar-coated pills made from caffeine and meth that are flooding in from neighboring Burma. Annual seizures of yaba in Bangladesh increased by a jaw-dropping 80,000% over the past decade, authorities say. A disturbing on-the-scene report from Public Radio International emphasizes that in conservative and Muslim rural Bangladesh, yaba is not being used as a "party drug." The speed pills are most often used to get folks through long days of hard labor.

Burmese dissidents broach opium decrim

Posted on February 28th, 2017 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaAs Burma's opium wars continue despite the country's democratic opening, actvists are using the new political space to advocate for a more tolerant policy on poppy cultivation. At a Feb. 16 panel in Rangoon, the Drug Policy Advocacy Group (DPAG) issued a call for a reform of Burma’s drug laws, The Irrawady newspaper reports. "The 1993 Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law focuses on punishment. But what then, after a drug user is given imprisonment?" asked DPAG coordinator Dr. Nang Pann Ei Kham. "The 1993 law is out of date, and what's more, is that it has not been a successful law [in terms of] drug elimination."

Bolivia tilting back to prohibitionist stance?

Posted on September 19th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

AndesPresident Barack Obama once again singled out Washington's biggest political adversaries in Latin America for censure in this year's White House report on global anti-drug efforts. The annual memorandum to the State Department, "Major Drug Transit or Major Illicit Drug Producing Countries," released Sept. 12, lists 17 Latin American countries out of a total of 22 around the world. As has now become routine, Bolivia, Venezuela and Burma are blacklisted as countries that have "failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to the obligations under international counternarcotic agreements." (InSight Crime, Sept. 13)

Bhutan emerges as contraband cannabis hub

Posted on July 21st, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

South AsiaThe landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan was traditionally isolated—only getting television as recently as 1999. Since opening up, alas, it has been increasingly drawn into the multiple armed conflicts rocking the greater region—especially becoming a staging ground for ethnic guerillas waging insurgencies for autonomy or separatism in India. Most recently, authorities in India are asserting that some of these guerilla armies are in league with Bhutanese cannabis growers to fund their armed struggles. 

Burmese opium farmers protest eradication

Posted on May 20th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

South East AsiaThe White House has announced a partial lifting of sanctions on Burma in recognition of progress in its democratic transition. Restrictions are to be dropped on state-owned banks and businesses, although some 100 companies and individuals linked to the armed forces will remain iced. This relaxation comes at the request of longtime democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, who although barred from holding the presidency is effectively the country’s leader following November's elections. But human rights concerns remain—especially around the fate of the Rohingya Muslims, persecuted and made stateless by the military junta that has now (mostly) surrendered power. And the multiple ethnic insurgencies in Burma's opium-producing northern mountains, while receiving less world media attention lately, continue to vex the country.

Anti-drug vigilantes heat up Burma's opium zone

Posted on March 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaWith the harvest season just weeks away, tensions are high in Burma's opium-producing Kachin state following a series of clashes between opium-growing peasants and a local citizen anti-drug movement. Pat Jasan, a patrol established two years ago by the Kachin Baptist Church, has been in repeated confrontations over the past weeks at Kachin's Waingmaw township. The most recent, on Feb. 25, resulted in at least 20 Pat Jasan followers wounded in gunfire and grenade blasts. The vigilantes were apparently set upon by a heavily-armed force while clearing poppy fields.

Burma: will ceasefire wind down opium war?

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

South East AsiaBurma's President Thein Sein signed a ceasefire Oct. 15 with eight armed rebel groups, in a bid to bring the country's multiple ethnic insurgencies to an end before next month's general elections—the first since a nominally civilian government took over and pledged a democratic transition in 2011 after decades of dictatorship. The agreement seeks to incorporate rebel groups into the political process, ending a war that has persisted (with varying levels of intensity) since Burmese independence in 1948. But while the pact is optimistically dubbed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), seven armed groups involved in the peace talks did not sign the final deal. Among the seven non-signatories is the largest rebel army, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), with an estimated 25,000 fighters. Trying to put a good face on things, Thein Sein said , "history will judge the value of the NCA not by the number of signatories but how the terms of the NCA are effectively implemented." Also not signing on are the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Kokang armed factions along the Chinese border. One of the most significant groups signing on to the deal, the Karen National Union (KNU), actually entered a bilateral ceasefire with the government in 2012.

Who's new

  • Baba Israel
  • Karr Young
  • John Veit
  • YosephLeib
  • Peter Gorman